CHINA: Crackdown on dissident writers continues
INTERNATIONAL PEN WRITERS IN PRISON COMMITTEE
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY (10 December)
CHINA: Crackdown on dissident writers continues.
The United Nations International Human Rights Day falls every year on 10 December. This year, International PEN is marking the day with an action to protest the large numbers of writers and journalists detained in the People's Republic of China (P.R.C).
China has long been a major concern for International PEN as a country that has consistently held among the highest numbers of writers and journalists in prison. Today PEN has on its records 46 cases in the P.R.C., some serving sentences of up to 19 years. Among them is Shi Tao, who was arrested in November 2004 and is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for 'illegally leaking state secrets overseas' solely for sending an email. Also Uighur writer Nurehamet Yasin and his publisher Korash Huseyin, imprisoned since 2004 and serving 3 and 10 year sentences respectively for allegedly 'inciting Uighur separatism ' in Yasin's short story Wild Pigeon (Yawa Kepter).
Since August this year, PEN has observed with some concern a steady rise in the number of new arrests. They include Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong), a prominent writer, arrested on 6 September 2006 and charged on 12 October with 'inciting subversion', and Yan Zhengxue, a dissident writer and member of Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), arrested on 18 October 2006 also on subversion charges. Both are held for their critical writings published online and dissident activities.
Former prisoners consistently report high levels of ill-treatment and medical neglect in Chinese prisons, which adds to PEN's concerns for the welfare of those detained. Those held in pre-trial detention are particularly at risk, for example Tibetan writer Dolma Kyab, who reportedly contracted tuberculosis whilst in pre-trial detention at the TAR Public Security Bureau Detention Centre.
Commentators suggest that the rise in arrests signifies a crackdown on Chinese dissidents in advance of the 2008 Olympic Games, aimed at silencing those who may attempt to use the Games as an opportunity to raise criticism of the authorities. International PEN will be monitoring the situation for freedom of expression in China as the Olympic Games nears, and will rally writers from around the world to campaign for the release of all writers detained in the P.R.C. for their critical writings and dissident activities.
Please send appeals:
- protesting the detention of all writers currently detained in the P.R.C., and calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China became a signatory in 1998;
- seeking immediate assurances that they are not ill-treated in prison;
- urging the authorities to respect their basic rights whilst detained and to granted them full access to their families, lawyers and any necessary medical care.
A full list of writers detained in China is available on request. PEN centres are encouraged to elect any main cases as members of their centre. Please contact this office for background packs.
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People's Republic of China
Procurator General Mr. Jia Chunwang
Supreme People's Procuratorate
Beiheyan Street 147
Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. WiPC recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.