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HRIC elects new co-chairs ushers in new era of activity

November 8, 1999

Human Rights in China (HRIC) held its annual board meeting on November 5, electing prominent astrophysicist Fang Lizhi and seasoned human rights advocate Robert L. Bernstein as co-chairs of the board of directors. The meeting - which marked HRIC’s first gathering of directors in the organization’s second decade of existence -inaugurated a period of increased board involvement and organizational expansion. In addition to the creation and election of the co-chair positions, HRIC established development, communications, nomination and management committees within the board. The co-chairs are responsible for overseeing the activities of the committees, which will coordinate with staff to optimize the outreach and efficiency of HRIC’s work. These changes in structure are reflected in HRIC’s newly revised by-laws, issued at the board meeting.

“One of our primary goals is to establish an HRIC office in Beijing,” said Robert L. Bernstein, newly elected HRIC co-chair. “Until that time, I see myself serving as a “host” chair who can help give voice to the voiceless. It is my hope that Chinese authorities will engage in dialogues, not only with other governments, but also with Chinese human rights activists like Fang Lizhi, Wang Dan and Wei Jingsheng, and with Chinese organizations like Human Rights in China.” Bernstein is the former chairman of Random House and founder of Human Rights Watch.

“The Chinese government is desperate to arrest and punish anyone it deems threatening to its one-party system,” said Fang Lizhi, fellow HRIC co-chair. “But freedom and human rights are primary currents in the ongoing trend of globalization. The historic Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989 and its unending line of successors in China’s human rights movement tell us that freedom and human rights will eventually come to China. Human Rights in China is tirelessly working toward this day.” Fang, the world-renowned scientist, was a driving force behind China’s 1989 democracy movement. He is now a professor in the physics department at the University of Arizona.

A record number of directors was in attendance at Friday’s meeting, bringing together 33 board members from the Americas, Europe and Asia. A total of 50 directors now sit on HRIC’s board. New members include: Greg Carr, the former chairman of Prodigy and the chair of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University; Jurgen Domes, professor emeritus of political science and East Asian studies at Saar University in Germany; Fiona Druckenmiller, former mutual fund portfolio manager and trustee of Human Rights Watch; Hu Ping, editor of Beijing Spring; Cheuk Kwan, chair of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China; Nina Rosenwald, co-chair of the American Securities Holding Company and founding member of the Center for Human Rights at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Susan Whitfield, China specialist at the British Library and long-time human rights advocate; and Derrick Wong, former executive director of Doctors of the World and consultant for not-for-profit organizations.