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China campaignAugust 2008 saw the staging of the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, a country where PEN has had significant concerns for many years because of the large numbers of writers and journalists held in prison for calling for improved civil and political rights. In addition to the number of long-term detainees in China, PEN is also seriously concerned about prison conditions, ill-health, access to medical care and family visits, lack of due process and harassment.

In the months leading up to the opening of the Games, centres were asked to raise publicity in their own countries, encourage journalists to cover freedom of expression in their reporting on the Games, lobby their own governments, sporting and other delegations to Beijing, request meetings with Chinese diplomats and representatives in their own countries, and to form alliances with other NGOs and individuals concerned for the state of free expression in China.

As the campaign moves into its post-Olympics phase, International PEN will be assessing the impact of the Games on free expression in China, and continuing to campaign for the release of writers and journalists still detained, whose numbers remain largely unchanged since December 2007.
What happens next

As part of its ongoing long-term casework, International PEN will continue to focus on the issue of free expression in China and to campaign for the release of all those detained. Chinese writer Woeser is one of the cases featured in International PEN’s Day of Imprisoned Writer Campaign (15 November).

International PEN will be reviewing the state of free expression in China and assessing the impact of the Games 6 months and one year on, in February and August 2009.

PEN Members: what you can do

China Campaign Case Examples

China Campaign Toolkit