As we enter into the Year of the Ox, I did some research about the characteristics of this sign of the Chinese zodiac. Let me tell you, if the descriptions of the Ox are right, 2009 is shaping up to be the Year of the Human Rights Activist. According to Wikipedia, Ox people are “unswervingly patient, tireless in their work…they are articulate and eloquent…kind, caring souls…these people enjoy helping others…they engage all the trials of the whole world and seek solutions for them.” I’d say that pretty much describes every Amnesty member I’ve had the privilege to meet.
So with that in mind, as you watch the news today and see all the images of the extravagant New Year celebrations in China, don’t forget about the many Chinese people who cannot share in the celebrations. People like Shi Tao, who has been in prison since 2004 simply for sending and email. Take a moment to send a couple of Chinese New Year cards. Let Shi Tao know that he’s not alone, and to ask the Chinese authorities to release him. Together, we can make sure the Year of the Ox is also the Year of Freedom!