Guilty Democrats

LONDON – When former Czech President Václav Havel knocked on the door of the Chinese embassy in Prague to demand the release of the writer Liu Xiaobo, I had an eerie sense of déjà vu. Thirty-three years ago, Havel helped initiate Charter 77, the landmark document that crystallized the ideals of all the dissidents – and many others – trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

Havel, of course, was rewarded with a long jail sentence for his efforts. Now Liu has been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for much the same crime: initiating Charter 08, perhaps the bravest attempt yet to chart a peaceful way forward to freedom for China.