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Liu Xiaobo Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2009
Before you enter the grave
Don’t forget to write me with your ashes
Do not forget to leave your address in the nether world

Liu Xiaobo, leading dissident writer, former President and current Board member of Independent Chinese PEN Centre, has been detained since 8 December 2008 for signing Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights. He was formally charged on 23 June 2009 with ‘incitement to subversion of state power’, and his case remains under investigation by the police. If prosecuted and convicted he faces up to fifteen years in jail. He is among over forty writers currently detained in the P.R.China.

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, 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 8000 signatories from throughout China. Charter 08 can be found in English:

Liu Xiaobo was held under Residential Surveillance, a form of pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing until he was formally charged on 24 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 socialist system in recent years’. He is said to have confessed to the charges against him. Liu Xiaobo is being held at the No. 1 Detention Centre of Beijing City. He has been held with very limited access to his lawyer and family visits throughout his detention.

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.

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN considers the continued detention of Liu Xiaobo to be a breach of international standards guaranteeing freedom of expression and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

What you can do:

Letters of appeal calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo may be sent to:
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
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 send copies of any replies you may receive from the authorities to Cathy McCann at the International PEN head office in London – address below.

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