China Media Project has a scoop:
In an open letter circulating on Chinese social media today, a group of more than 100 prominent individuals — including academics, journalists, lawyers, economists and former Party officials — call on China’s government to immediately ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or ICCPR. The treaty, one of three main components of the UN’s International Bill of Rights, commits ratifying parties to a series of core individual civil and political rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and due process.
Addressed directly to the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), the open letter poses a strong challenge to China’s incoming leadership ahead of the annual “two meetings” of the NPC and CPPCC,which are scheduled to convene on March 5.
The significance here isn't really the demand, which isn't going to be met, but a) the mobilisation, b) the direct attempt to make demands of the government, c) the fact that the persons involved felt it was safe to do so and d) the prospect of various government critics drawing together into an extra-party lobby (if so, it's probably best not to refer to them as a 'movement' until such time they decide to do so themselves).
The petition was set to appear on Thursday in a 'major newspaper' but had to be released early, online, after the authorities got wind of the plan. I take it that this means Southern Group is still in the hands of the censors, despite recent protests.
I suspect coverage of this will be a bit overblown, as with the Wukan affair. My take is that if we regard activism in China as a kind of dancing on the lip of the volcano, then maybe the lip has got large enough to make room for large-ish scale co-ordinated dancing. Which is something.