Home Page > News Item > CHINA: Writer Chen Wei Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison

RAN 66/11 23 December 2011

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International condemns the imprisonment of the writer Chen Wei. An honorary member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and winner of the Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write award, Chen Wei was sentenced on 23 December 2011 to nine years in prison for ‘subversive writing.’ The conviction is based on articles published on Chinese websites overseas. The WiPC calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Chen Wei.

Below is a report from the BBC on Chen Wei’s case:

Chinese writer Chen Wei has been sentenced to nine years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power”.

Mr Chen published several essays online calling for freedom of speech and reform of China’s one-party system.

He was among hundreds of dissidents detained earlier this year after online calls for protests in China inspired by the uprisings in the Middle East.

He told the court he was not guilty and that “democracy will prevail” in China, say reports.

Mr Chen has always insisted he was simply expressing his opinions as allowed under the Chinese constitution.

His wife told the BBC the trial had been “a performance” and that the verdict had been decided before it began.

The indictment against Mr Chen listed several essays he wrote for foreign websites on topics including pieces which criticised the political system in China and praised the growth of civil society.

The trial in Suining was held behind closed doors and lasted only two hours. In addition to the jail sentence, Mr Chen had his political rights taken away for a further two years. It is believed to be one of the harshest sentences imposed on those involved in the so-called Jasmine Revolution – the attempt to replicate the Arab Spring uprising in China.

Mr Chen’s lawyer, Zheng Jianwei, said that after the verdict was announced, Mr Chen told the court: “Dictatorship will fail, democracy will prevail.”

His wife, Wang Xiaoyan, told the BBC she was “very unhappy” with the verdict.

“I think today’s trial is just a show. It’s a performance. The verdict had been decided in advance. They don’t allow people to speak. There is no freedom of speech.”

She said his essays had been misinterpreted their meaning distorted, and he had done nothing to incite subversion.

“He is a very patriotic man. He did criticise the Communist Party, but that’s stating the facts. That is not subversion.”

Mrs Wang, who was present in court, said her husband had decided not to launch an appeal, and that she respected his decision.

“He said the verdict would be decided in advance and there is no point appealing. He wants to finish serving the terms quickly and come home quickly,” she said.

“We have a daughter who is not even 10 years old. I need to slowly explain to my daughter why her father is in jail.”

Human rights observers at the court for the trial said there were a large police presence and that two activists had been questioned taken away.

Campaign group Human Rights in China (HRC) said Mrs Wang and other members of Mr Chen’s family have faced harassment from the police during his detention, and that he had only been permitted to meet his lawyers twice since he was detained.

Defence lawyers had been told to keep their comments brief in the courtroom, said the group, in a sign they wanted the trial to be over quickly.

Mr Chen is a veteran pro-democracy campaigner, having been jailed for his part in the student protest in 1989 which were crushed in Tiananmen Square.

He is also a sign signatory of Charter 08 – a manifesto for democratic reform that was co-written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

Mr Liu is serving an 11-year jail term for his role in producing the document, a sentence which has been widely criticised by governments and rights groups around the world.For further information see the following links:
News reports:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/23/china-jails-activist-chen-wei?newsfeed=true

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16312065

Please send appeals:
Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Chen Wei, imprisoned by the P.R.China for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression;
Expressing alarm at the crackdown on dissent in which writers, journalists and human rights defenders are amongst those to have been targeted;
Reminding the Chinese authorities of their obligations under Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which it is a state party.

Send appeals to:
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of ChinaState 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.

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 22 February 2012**
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-internationalpen.org

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