WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter today to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden called Chinese government efforts to remove a mural from a Corvallis building an attempt to limit free speech and a “grave affront.”
“Limitations on speech and expression are incompatible with fundamental human rights anywhere in the world, and an attempt by your representatives to limit freedom of speech in the United States is a grave affront,” Wyden said in a letter to Ambassador Zhang Yesui. “This also includes the right to freedom of religion, of the press, and the right of people to peacefully assemble. While these rights might not be respected in China, they are values that all Americans hold dear. Any attempt by your government to suppress these rights is unacceptable and must not be repeated.”
Last month, the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco wrote a letter requesting that the City of Corvallis “adopt effective measures to stop the activities advocating ‘Tibet Independence’ and ‘Taiwan Independence’.” The letter was referring to a mural painted on a building owned by David Lin. Also, two officials from the consulate flew to Corvallis to further pressure city officials to remove the mural.
“Tolerance of different political opinions, religious views or philosophies may not always be comfortable or pleasant, but the free exchange of ideas and viewpoints ultimately make for stronger and more vibrant societies, regardless of their historic heritage,” the letter to the ambassador continues. “Fear of words and expression, as we have all seen recently, is the first step towards violence and wider conflict. I urge you to share that lesson with your colleagues.”