Free Liu Xiaobo
Online petition - Free Liu Xiaobo
A letter from PEN America, I want to share this with you, because we believe in 'Freedom of Expression' can lead this world to a better position, peace, harmony and understanding.
You are receiving this message because you added your name to PEN’s petition calling for the release of writer, intellectual, and past Independent Chinese PEN Center President Liu Xiaobo. Recently we learned that Liu is going to be tried on charges that could result in a 15-year prison term. I am now asking you to add your voice to the chorus of Liu’s supporters around the world by sending a letter to Chinese authorities protesting the charges and urging his immediate release.
On June 23, 2009, Liu Xiaobo was removed from the undisclosed location where he had been held for over six months, formally arrested, and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for his role in the drafting of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for greater human rights and democracy in China. That groundbreaking document, initially signed by 303 individuals on the eve of Human Rights Day, now boasts over 8,500 signatures of Chinese citizens from all walks of life, despite constant threats from authorities.
What we need now is an outpouring of letters and other communications to let the Chinese government know that the world will not sit idly by while an innocent man, guilty only of peacefully using the power of the written word, goes to prison. Please send a letter to Chinese authorities calling for Liu’s release. A sample letter follows. You can also write an op-ed or letter to the editor of your local paper describing the onslaught against Liu Xiaobo and freedom of expression in China . Check out Liu’s case page, as well as PEN’s China campaign page for more information on the situation.
With your help, we can free Liu Xiaobo.
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs
PEN American Center
Liu was formally arrested and charged with "inciting subversion of state power" on June 23, 2009. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison. His case illustrates the lengths the Chinese government will still go to stifle free expression, and the determination of Chinese writers to fight for this most basic right. We stand with them in their struggle.
Take action now to help free Liu Xiaobo and send a message to the Chinese government that words are not a crime.
We, the undersigned, support PEN in its call for the release of Liu Xiaobo, prominent dissident writer, former President and current Board member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, who has been detained since December 8, 2008 for signing Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights. Liu Xiaobo was held at an undisclosed location in Beijing without charge until June 23, 2009, when he formally arrested and charged with “inciting subversion of state power."
Liu Xiaobo is among a large number of dissidents to have been detained or harassed after issuing an open letter calling on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to ratify the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and launching Charter 08. These activities formed part of campaigns across China to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10th), and the Charter has now been signed by more than 8,500 scholars, journalists, freelance writers, and activists. PEN reports that nearly all of the original 300 signatories have since been detained or harassed.
PEN considers Liu Xiaobo to be held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, and therefore in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, as well as Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.
We join PEN in demanding his immediate and unconditional release, and the release of all those currently detained in the People’s Republic of China for the peaceful expression of their opinions.
Please send an appeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Procurator General Cao Jianming calling for the release of writer and prominent PEN member Liu Xiaobo. We recommend using two methods of sending your appeal in order to ensure your voice is heard:
1. Send an email. Click here to personalize and send the below letter to Chinese officials. If a formatted email does not pop up in your email program, copy and paste the below letter and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com with a cc to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Send a letter. Copy and personalize the following letter to your personal or instituational letterhead and send via post to the addresses provided. Postage to China is $0.98.
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
Mr. Cao Jianming
Supreme People's Procuratorate
No. 147, Beiheyan Dajie
Dongcheng District, Beijing 100726
I am writing to protest the detention of prominent writer and former president and current board member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center Liu Xiaobo.
I understand that on December 8, 2008, police arrested Liu Xiaobo and searched his home and confiscated computers and other materials. He was held at an undisclosed location for more than six months under “residential surveillance” before being formally arrested and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” on June 23, 2009. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison. He is among a number of activists to have been targeted after launching Charter 08, a declaration outlining political reforms and calling for greater human rights. The manifesto, signed by more than 300 scholars, journalists and freelance writers, was released on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, commemorated every year on December 10.
I respectfully urge you facilitate Liu Xiaobo’s immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
[Your name and address]
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs
PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012
Liu Xiaobo is a renowned literary critic, writer, and political activist based in Beijing. He served as President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from 2003 to 2007 and currently holds a seat on its board. Liu Xiaobo was a professor at Beijing Normal University and has worked as a visiting scholar at several universities outside of China, including the University of Oslo, the University of Hawaii, and Columbia University in New York City.
Liu Xiaobo was formally arrested on June 23, 2009 by the Beijing Public Security Bureau and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for co-authoring Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reform, greater human rights, and an end to one-party rule in China that has been signed by hundreds of individuals from all walks of life throughout the country. He had been detained on December 8, 2008 and held for six months and two weeks under “residential surveillance” while police gathered evidence on his case. He is still being held at an undisclosed location in Beijing, but will likely be moved to a formal detention center soon. Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo’s wife, has only been permitted to visit him twice, he has not had access to a lawyer and he has been denied writing materials in detention. If convicted of the subversion charge, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
In the spring of 1989, Liu Xiaobo left his post at Columbia University and returned to Beijing to play a crucial role in the spreading pro-democracy movement, staging a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square in support of the students and leading calls for a truly broad-based, sustainable democratic movement. He was instrumental in preventing even further bloodshed in the Square by supporting and advancing a call for non-violence on the part of the students. He spent two years in prison for his role, and another three years of “reeducation through labor” in 1996 for publicly questioning the role of the single-party system and calling for dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama of Tibet.
In 2004, Liu’s phone lines and Internet connection were cut after the release of his essay criticizing the use of “subversion” charges used to silence journalists and activists, and he has been the target of regular police surveillance and harassment in the years since.
Just after 9:00 p.m. on December 8, 2008, before the formal release of Charter 08, police arrived at the Beijing homes of Liu and fellow activist Zhang Zuhua. At 11:00 p.m., they took both men away and searched their homes, confiscating computers and other materials. His arrest occurred during a period of several sensitive anniversaries, including the 100-year anniversary of the promulgation of China’s first constitution, the 60-year anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 30-year anniversary of Beijing’s “Democracy Wall” movement.
While Zhang Zuhua was released the following morning, Liu Xiaobo remains in detention. He was held incommunicado until December 31, when he was finally permitted a visit from his wife.
Since Liu Xiaobo’s arrest, nearly all of the 300 original signatories of Charter 08 have been interrogated in a push to gather evidence against him and crack down on free expression in China.
PEN Press Releases
June 24, 2009:
Writers Condemn Formal Arrest of Chinese Colleague Liu Xiaobo
June 16, 2009:
More than Six Months on, Liu Xiaobo Remains in Detention
April 29, 2009:
Prominent Writer Liu Xiaobo Honored in New York
April 16, 2009:
Liu Xiaobo to Receive Top PEN Honor
March 31, 2009:
Beijing Writer, PEN VP Jiang Qisheng Detained for Charter 08
February 21, 2009:
Writers Decry Detentions During Clinton Visit to China
February 17, 2009:
Writer Tohti Tunyaz Released From Prison in China a Week Before Clinton Visit
January 20, 2009:
World Authors Call on Chinese Authorities to Release Liu Xiaobo
January 19, 2009:
International PEN protests the continued detention of Liu Xiaobo
December 12, 2008:
Liu Xiaobo Is Indivisible From Us: A Statement by Signatories of Charter 08
December 9, 2008:
Leading PEN Member Liu Xiaobo Detained in China on Eve of Human Rights Day
October 17, 2008:
PEN: Signs “Discouraging” for Post-Olympics Human Rights Improvements in China
Liu Xiaobo's Writing
The internet is God's present to China
from Times Online
Additional Online Resources
The Poet in an Unknown Prison
by Liu Xia
from The New York Review of Books
Where is China heading?
by Tania Branigan and Dan Chung
from The Guardian
Manifesto on Freedom Set's China's Persecution Machinery in Motion
by Michael Wines
from the New York Times
Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo to Receive Prestigious Award
by Jane Macartney
from Times Online
Honoring Liu Xiaobo: 5 Reasons Why What Happens To Arrested Chinese Writer Liu Matters To Everyone
by Larry Siems
from Huffington Post
Letter from the Consortium for the Release of Liu Xiaobo to China's President Hu Jintao
by Nadine Gordimer, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Wole Soyinka, et al
from Human Rights Watch
Petition Urges China to Free Dissident
by Edward Wong
from The New York Times
Beijing Clamps Down After Call for Democracy
by Austin Ramzy
Translated by Perry Link
from The New York Review of Books
China: Dissident and literary scholar Liu Xiaobo
Released on June 24, 2009
Amnesty International condemns the formal arrest of prominent scholar and activist Liu Xiaobo on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power" on 23 June. The People's Daily reported that police accused Liu Xiaobo of activities such as "spreading of rumours and defaming of the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years".
"These charges against Liu Xiaobo seem to stem from his support for Charter 08, which actually calls for many of the same human rights protections that were reiterated in China's first ever National Human Rights Action Plan," said Roseann Rife, Asia-Pacific Deputy Program Director at Amnesty International. "His arrest follows a series of crackdowns on activists around the 20th Tiananmen anniversary and intensified control of internet use which only demonstrates the authorities' lack of commitment to and total disregard for the goals of the Action Plan."
"This use of state security charges to punish activists for merely expressing their views must stop," said Rife. "This is another act of desperation by a regime that is terrified of public opinion."
Liu Xiaobo was seized from his home in Beijing by the police on December 8, two days before the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the original launch date of Charter 08, a blueprint stemming from civil society's calls for fundamental legal and political reform in China. In violation of the Criminal Procedure Law, the police failed to give his family information about where Liu was detained and to provide a detention notice within 24 hours. The police then placed him under "residential surveillance", a form of house arrest with a maximum six-month limit, without charge, access to a lawyer or any due process for more than six months.
"The authorities must drop the politically-motivated prosecution against Liu Xiaobo who merely peacefully exercised his rights to freedom of expression. He should be released immediately and unconditionally."
The Chinese authorities must also stop the ongoing harassment, detention, prosecution and imprisonment of Chinese human rights defenders and activists who are also peacefully exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association.
BACKGROUNDCharter 08, initially signed by approximately 300 Chinese scholars, lawyers and officials, proposes a blueprint for fundamental legal and political reform in China, with the goal of a democratic system that respects human rights. Charter 08 was launched on 9 December 2008. Since then numerous signatories have been questioned and harassed by Chinese authorities.
Liu Xiaobo is a well-known scholar who was arbitrarily detained twice previously for his writings and his support of the democracy movement in 1989 and spent several years in detention.
Posted by Albert Ashok