10 December 2012 (International Human Rights Day) marks the second anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to our colleague Liu Xiaobo, poet and former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC). PEN International, in partnership with the Dublin-based human rights group Front Line Defenders (www.frontlinedefenders.org), is launching an international campaign to call for his release, and that of all those currently detained in the P.R. China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and Article 35 of its own constitution.
Chinese poet and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo is serving an eleven-year prison sentence for his dissident writings and peaceful activism, the fourth year of which will be marked on 8 December 2012. PEN International and Front Line Defenders are gathering video recordings of writers around the world reading excerpts of Liu’s poetry, which have been uploaded onto a website and will form the basis for a series of actions and events on and around 10 December (International Human Rights Day). Show your support by taking part in at least one of the following actions.
PEN Centres are urged to stage public events and write appeals during the month of December to express solidarity with Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, and all writers currently detained in the P.R.China.
Press and Publicity
• Submit recordings of your readings of Liu Xiaobo’s work to the campaign website. The process for uploading a video is very simple. Please click here for instructions and writing samples by Liu Xiaobo (in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Farsi and Chinese).
• Use the compiled video here in public events.
• Stage a street projection of the video in a prominent public space or building on 10 December, International Human Rights Day.
• Write articles for publication in the press to celebrate Liu and his work.
Appeals to Chinese Embassies:
• Send appeals demanding the immediate and unconditional release of poet and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, and all those detained in China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and Article 35 of its own constitution.
• WiPC strongly recommends that you send or, if possible, personally deliver the appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it to the Chinese authorities and welcoming any comments – see below for guidance.
• To achieve the greatest impact, appeals should be sent during the month of December (please check with this office if sending appeals later than 31 December 2012).
Send appeals to:
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of 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.
You may find it easier to write to the Chinese ambassador in your own country asking him or her to forward your appeal. Most embassies are obliged to forward such appeals to the relevant officials in the country. A letter or petition signed by an eminent member of your Centre may give make it more likely for your appeal to be considered. Similarly if your appeal is published in your local press and copied to the Chinese ambassador, this too may have greater impact.
See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country Chinese embassies abroad
**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 31 December 2012**
• Elect a Chinese writer as an Honorary Member of your Centre and by doing so provide long term support and advocacy for him/her and their family. For details of the International PEN Honorary Membership scheme, read the PEN WiPC Guide to Defending Writers Under Attack (Part V, pgs 15-20). Please let us know if you do so and we will ensure that your Centre is networked with others working on the case.
• Send cards to as many Chinese writers in prison as you can. This has been shown to afford detainees better treatment in prison, as well as providing moral support. A list of main cases and prison addresses is attached.
• Join the global petition to the incoming Chinese Chinese President Xi Jingping for the release of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on behalf of 134 Nobel Laureates
**Please remember to let the PEN International office know about any actions undertaken, and please send us links to any press coverage so that we can share it with other centres.**
LIU XIAOBO: Case background
Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2008 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 with ‘spreading rumours and defaming the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years’. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison on 25 December 2009. The verdict offered as evidence seven phrases that he penned from 2005 until his detention—all either quotations from his many essays or from Charter 08, which Liu had helped draft.
Liu Xiaobo first received support from PEN International 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.
For more details of past campaigns on Liu Xiaobo click here.
For more samples of his writings and other resources, go to the PEN America website.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org