Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CHINA: Prominent dissident writer likely to be prosecuted soon.

CHINA: Prominent dissident writer likely to be prosecuted soon.


9 December 2009


One year after the arrest of prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, former President and Board member of Independent Chinese PEN Centre, his case has been transferred to the Beijing Municipal Procuratorate with a recommendation to prosecute. Liu is now expected to be tried on charges of ‘incitement to subversion' for his role in publishing Charter 08 and articles published online since 2005. Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2008 for his role in publishing Charter 08, a document calling for political reform and human rights. International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) is dismayed by the recommendation, and continues to demand the immediate and unconditional release of dissident writer Liu Xiaobo and all those detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

According to the WiPC's information, on 8 December 2009 Liu Xiaobo's lawyer received a notice from the authorities that his client's case had been transferred to the Beijing Municipal Procuratorate with a recommendation to initiate a prosecution. This marks the end of the investigation period, which began with Liu's formal arrest on 23 June 2009 on charges of ‘incitement to subversion of state power'. The prosecutor now has one month to decide whether to accept the police recommendation. Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2009 and held under ‘residential surveillance', a form of pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing until he was formally charged on 23 June 2009. According to the official Xinhua news agency, he is accused of ‘spreading rumours and defaming the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years'. The charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Liu Xiaobo is among a large number of dissidents to have been detained or harassed since December 2008 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, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights published on 9 December 2008. These activities were part of campaigns to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December), and were initially signed by over 300 scholars, journalists, freelance writers and activists and now have over 10,000 signatories from throughout China.

Background
Liu Xiaobo first received support from International PEN in 1989, when he was one of a group of writers and intellectuals given the label the "Black Hands of Beijing" by the government and arrested for their part in the Tiananmen Square protests. Prior to his current arrest, Liu has spent a total of five years in prison, including a three year sentence passed in 1996, and has suffered frequent short arrests, harassment and censorship. In January 2009 over 300 writers signed a petition calling for his release.

For more information follow these links:
"An Open Letter to Calling on the National People's Congress Standing Committee to Ratify the ICCPR", 10 December, 2008 (in Chinese),
http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class4/200812/20081209030825_12257.html

Charter 08, 10 December, 2008 (in Chinese):
http://crd-net.org/Article/Class71/200812/20081209130050_12266.html

The English version can be found on:
http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/3552/prmID/1610

For writings and an interview with Liu Xiaobo see American PEN's website:
http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/3029/prmID/172
http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/3550/prmID/172


Please send appeals:

Expressing dismay about the charge of ‘incitement to subversion' brought against prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo solely for his peaceful dissident activities;
Calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Send appeals to:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People's Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Mr. Meng Jianzhu
Minister of the Public Security
East Chang'an Avenue 14
100741 Beijing
P.R. China

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.

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for China in your country if possible.

**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 24 January 2009**

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@internationalpen.org.uk

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