China: Two writers and publishers released


Update 1 to RAN 17/14       13 January 2015                                                                    

PEN International welcomes news of the release in late December 2014 of prominent Beijing-based writer, editor, and publisher, Xu Xiao, and publisher Liu Jianshu. PEN remains deeply concerned for the well-being of four other writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists – Xue Ye, He Zhengjun, Kuo Yanding and ZHANG Miao – who remain detained, apparently for their public support of pro-democracy protests which began in September 2014 in Hong Kong.

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Send appeals to Chinese Embassies:

  • Welcoming the release of Xu Xiao, and Liu Jianshu;
  • Expressing serious concern for the arrest and well-being of Xue Ye, He Zhengjun, Kuo Yanding and ZHANG Miao;
  • Calling for their immediate and unconditional release if, as is feared, they is being persecuted for their legitimate professional activities and peaceful exercise of their right to free expression;
  • Expressing concern at the renewed crackdown on government critics in recent months, and reminding the Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”.

Send appeals to:

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025

We recommend that you also copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments they may have.

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 12 February 2015** Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to these cases, including any responses you receive from the authorities.

Background

The first four cases named in bold below were arrested on 26 November 2014. Xu Xiao and Liu Jianshu were released in late December 2014.

Xu Xiao is a prominent Beijing-based writer, editor, and publisher. In October, Xu Xiao, chief editor of “New Century” publications, was reported to have been included in a list of writers whose works were banned by China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).  She is also a volunteer lecturer with Liren College, a non-governmental educational institution which runs private schools and libraries and was developed from Liren China Rural Library, shut down by the authorities in 2012. The executive director of Liren College, Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) honorary member Chen Kun, was also reportedly arrested on 6 October on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Liren College was established under the umbrella of the China Rural Library (CRL), which over the last few years has had several library branches shut down by Chinese authorities.

Xue Ye and Liu Jianshu are independent publishers and bookstore owners also affiliated with Liren College, held on suspicion of “illegal business practices”, possibly relating to alleged illegal publications or the selling of illegally published books. Xue Ye is executive director in charge of libraries for Liren College and the former president of CRL; Liu Jianshu, who returned to the country after studying at Harvard and Oxford in 2011, since then had been the former deputy general-director of CRL and managing Liren libraries. Liu Jianshu was released on bail on 24 December 2014.

He Zhengjun is the administrative director of the Transition Institute, a renowned civil society independent think tank which has now been shut down by the Beijing authorities. Writers Guo Yushan and Huang Kaiping, the Transition Institute’s founder and ex-director, respectively, were arrested in October on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. The charge of creating disorder is commonly used to silence dissent. The Transition Institute, founded in 2007, has carried out investigations in the fields of fiscal reform, local elections, legal reforms, business regulations, citizen participation and education rights. Both of Guo and Huang are ICPC honorary members.

In addition to the writers above, writer, poet, independent documentary film-maker and scriptwriter, NGO activist and ICPC honorary member Kuo Yanding has been held since 10 October 2014 on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Also detained is Ms. ZHANG Miao, Beijing-based arts reporter for the German weekly Die Zeit. She was arrested on 2 October 2014 after reporting on the protests in Hong Kong for Die Zeit, and attending a poetry reading by artists in Songzhuang, eastern Beijing, to support the protests in Hong Kong. She was held incommunicado until 12 December 2014, when she was allowed to meet her lawyer, who confirmed that she is charged with ‘creating disturbances’. Her lawyer reported that she is in reasonable health, although she was reportedly assaulted by police during her arrest. She was initially sent to the Beijing No.1 Detention Center of Beijing, before being moved a few days later to a hotel, possibly due to concerns about her arrest raised by the international media and the German government. She was held there for over a month until she was formally arrested on 6 November 2014 by the Tongzhou Branch of Beijing Public Security Bureau. She is now being held in the Tongzhou Detention Center, Beijing.

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@pen-international.org