At PEN International’s 77th annual Congress in Belgrade today, delegates from over 80 PEN Centres worldwide unanimously passed a motion to congratulate Mario Vargas Llosa, former PEN International President and 2010 Nobel Laureate for Literature, and Liu Xiaobo, founding president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and 2010 Nobel Laureate for Peace. John Ralston Saul, PEN International President, said that ‘we follow the model of writers like Mario Vargas Llosa and Liu Xiaobo. They are illustrations of PEN International’s indivisible commitment to both literature and freedom of speech.’
PEN members also took the opportunity to use their collective voice and call on the Chinese authorities: ‘We seize on this historic moment to call for the release from prison of Liu Xiaobo and the release from house arrest of this wife, Liu Xia.’
Liu Xiaobo, the prominent Chinese dissident writer who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009, was the founder and first president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. He has since been made honorary member of nine PEN Centres. Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia in 2010. Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of the Writers in Prison PEN Committee, attended the award ceremony.
“Members of the PEN community were honoured to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo last December,” said Botsford Fraser. “But not a single member of Liu’s family or anyone from mainland China was allowed to attend, and the award was laid upon an empty chair. The PEN community will continue to fight for the unconditional release of our colleague, Liu Xiaobo.”