Effort Seeks To “Push The Envelope” On Non Violent Action To Protest Government Policies Of Forced Evictions and Blacklisting.

“The idea of Gong Min walking as method of non violent protest is becoming a recognized as an effective way for ordinary citizens to express dissatisfaction with government actions and policies while minimizing the threat of arrest”-

Yang Jianli, Harvard Fellow and President, Initiatives for China

Washington DC, May 27, 2010.   Initiatives for China announced today the first of a series of “Gong Min Walks” inside of Mainland China as part of an grass roots effort to expand organized non violent action against practices of the ruling communist party, which characterize the government’s systemic repression of its citizens.  “The first participant of GongMin Walk 2010 has arrived in a city outside China and is about to cross the border. I am confident that he will enter China successfully and be able to engage in some activities there.” announced Yang Jianli, president of Initiatives for China.

The first Gong Min (Chinese for Citizen Power) walk started in 2008, when Yang Jianli walked 500 miles from Boston to Washington, DC to thank the American people for their support while he was a political prisoner in China. The walk also  highlighted the worsening human rights situation in China prior to the Summer Olympics of 2008. The 32 day walk included 10 press conferences in major cities along the way during which Yang appealed to the international community to watch closely the conditions in China in the areas of human rights and the rule of law.

Since then Chinese activists have undertaken several Gong Min Walks  in Australia, Hong Kong, and inside Mainland China.  In May of 2009, Mr. Li Guohong began a GongMin Walk in China. On the way, he was frequently harassed and stopped by police. During the same year, activists in the U.S., Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia, France, Germany, and Taiwan, among others, participated in versions of the Walk, concluding with the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre. This past April, activists in mainland China embarked upon a project called  “GongMin Walk and Freedom Road.”  Since then, many have joined through similar Gong Min actions or writing in support of Gong Min.

“The idea of Gong Min walking as a method of non violent protest is becoming  recognized as an effective way for ordinary citizens to express dissatisfaction with government actions and policies while minimizing the threat of arrest”, said Dr. Yang.

Recent actions by the Chinese government have now emboldened Chinese citizens to take Gong Min Walks in protest against the specific policies of blacklisting politically active Chinese citizens from entering China from abroad and also forced evictions of citizens to clear land for state projects. In February of this year Feng Zhenghu became the first blacklisted person allowed to reenter China. The Chinese government relented after a 90 day Gong Min Action at Narita Airport which galvanized supporters from around the world.  Despite Mr. Feng’s success the blacklisting policy remains in place.  The recent opening of the Shanghai Expo highlighted the plight of 18000 families who were forcibly evicted from their homes  to make room for Expo.

As part of the Chinese democracy movement, the Gong Min Walk is a long-term cause,” Dr.Yang said. “We do not expect a one shot success. We will take one step at a time. I believe citizens’ rights have to be earned with patience and perseverance. Gradually China will change and advance towards democracy. I myself, a blacklisted Chinese citizen, look forward to taking a Gong Min Walk inside China at the right time.  We just have to keep pushing. We will never give up.”

In the coming weeks Initiatives for China will make public the names and actions of the Chinese citizens as they undertake their Gong Min walks.