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April 9th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
On Sunday afternoon Mayor Bogaard and Zhang Jiandong, Governor of Xicheng district in Beijing, signed their reaffirmation as sister cities on the 10th anniversary of the joint partnership.
The anniversary was marked with the ceremony, signing and gift exchange plus music and lunch all held at the Huntington Library. Though not everyone is pleased with the sister cities arrangement. We received this letter from The Visual Arts Guild on Sunday:
To All Members of Pasadena’s Sister-City Committee:
When the City of Pasadena agreed to join the Sister Cities program, it was to form partnerships that allow our communities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems through cultural, educational, municipal, business, professional, and technical exchanges and projects.
One of the City of Pasadena’s Sister Cities partnership is with Xicheng District of Beijing. It is time for the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee to act as a good sister to Xicheng District and engage in a dialogue of real communications and ask Governor Zhang Yu of Xicheng District of Beijing to help promote human rights in China for his own people. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the women, men and families in China who beg for our assistance.
California has a rich history in defending basic human rights. The grass roots efforts that the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee may be able to undertake can help restore the sense of dignity for many common people in China who seek the freedoms that we often take for granted.
Pasadena’s Sister Cities Committee can send a message to all cities throughout the United States that have sister-city relationships with China’s cities : the people-to-people relations will not exclude our compassion for those who suffer injustice. This is a wonderful opportunity that we urge you to accept.
We are appealing to the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee members to send a message to Beijing via Mr. Zhang Yu, Governor of Xicheng District of Beijing, to ask for the release of Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiabo was detained since December 10, 2008 on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Mr. Liu is one of the original signer of Charter 08, a document which re-iterated many of the rights set forth by the UN Declaration as well as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of China. In fact, Article 35 of the PRC Constitution guarantees the people in China the right of freedom of speech.
We are appealing to the Pasadena Sister City Committee members to send a message to Beijing via Mr. Zhang Yu, Governor of Xicheng District of Beijing to ask for the release of other prisoners of conscience: Huang Qi (human rights activist), Sun Lin (journalist), Qi Chonghuai (journalist), Hu Jia (environmentalist and AIDS activist), Yang Chunlin (land rights activist for peasants), Chen Guangcheng (blind activist against forced abortion and forced sterilization for women) and Shi Tao (journalist).
We must take our responsibilities seriously. We must let the officials from Beijing know that common people in the United States do care about the people in China. With the world rapidly changing, the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee would be on the right side of history by taking this one small but bold step of expressing concern for those in China whose are merely exercising their right to freedom of speech.
Ann Lau, Visual Artists Guild
Ann Noonan, Visual Artists Guild
Photo by Terry Miller