Home Page > News Item > CHINA: Fears for dissident writer Li Bifeng

RAN 31/12 20 June 2012

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International is seriously concerned about the prolonged detention without charge of Chinese activist, novelist and poet Li Bifeng. He has been held since September 2011 for alleged economic crimes, although he is believed to be targeted for his peaceful opposition activism. The WiPC calls upon the Chinese authorities to provide further information about Li’s detention. It fears that he may be held in violation of Article of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and Article 35 of the Chinese constitution, and if so calls for his immediate and unconditional release. It also seeks assurances about his health and treatment in detention.

According to PEN’s information, leading Sichuan activist Li Bifeng, aged 47, was arrested on 12 September 2011 after being summoned for questioning by police in Mianyang city, Sichuan province, over his so-called “economic problems”. Vaguely worded economic crimes are commonly used to suppress political dissent in China; prominent Chinese artist and social critic Ai Weiwei was detained in June 2011 and held for almost three months for alleged “economic crimes.”

Li Bifeng is a prolific poet and novelist as well as a well-known dissident, who has spent a total of over twelve years in prison since 1990 for his activism and critical writings. He was first imprisoned for five years for taking part in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, and then served a seven-year jail term from 1998-2005 for reporting on a workers’ protest in the Sichuan city of Mianyang in 1998. While in prison, Li produced some poetry and kept a diary. Some of his work can be found here.

A close friend of Li, Liao Yiwu, himself a writer currently in exile, has publicised Li’s current detention, and reports that the Chinese authorities suspect Li Bifeng of funding Liao’s escape from China (an allegation which Liao Yiwu strongly refutes). For more details, read Liao Yiwu’s appeal calling for Li Bifeng’s release.

Send appeals:

Expressing serious concern about the detention of novelist and poet Li Bifeng;
Seeking further information about any charges against him and his health;
Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Li Bifeng, in accordance with China’s national and international obligations on freedom of expression.

Appeals to:

The State Council General Office
HU Jintao Guojia Zhuxi
2 Fuyoujie
Xichengqu
Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China

Email: gov@govonline.cn

Premier
WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Xichengqu
Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 65961109

Please note that there are no fax numbers for all 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
Messages of solidarity may be sent to Li Bifeng at: libifeng2012@gmail.com

**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 20 July 2012**

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International 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@pen-international.org