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China: PEN International, Front Line Defenders and Storyful host online forum

Tuesday 17 December 2013 - 12:00am

To mark the fifth anniversary of the detention of Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, Front Line Defenders, PEN International and Storyful host online forum to discuss the current situation of human rights defenders in China

Liu Xiaobo, a prominent intellectual, is a long-time advocate of political reform and human rights in China and an outspoken critic of the Chinese communist regime. Over the past two decades Liu has served nine and a half years in prison for his work defending human rights. He is currently four years into an 11 year sentence for “inciting subversion of State power” after he co-authored Charter 08, a manifesto calling for democracy and respect for human rights in China. Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, which he was unable to accept in person due to his imprisonment. Since the announcement of his award, his wife Liu Xia, an artist, has been held under house arrest, largely isolated from the outside world. Liu Xia has not been accused, charged or convicted of any crime.

On occasion of the fifth anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's detention, Front Line Defenders and PEN International will host an online forum dedicated to his work and thinking, as well as to the current state of the human rights movement in China. Two prominent Chinese thinkers and human rights advocates, Ms. Liao Tienchi and Dr. Yang Jianli, as well as the Deputy Director of Front Line Defenders, Mr. Andrew Anderson, will participate in a Google Hangout discussion to be broadcast online on Wednesday 18 December at 1500 (GMT).

To join the Hangout, click here.

Ms. Liao Tienchi
was president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from October 2009 until earlier this year, and has regular contact with writers working in mainland China. Previously she worked at the Institute for Asian Affairs in Hamburg and as Director of the Laogai Research Foundation (LRF) working on the issue of forced prison labour in China. She was editor-in-chief of the Black Series - an autobiographic series about Chinese political prisoners - and now is a columnist with the literary journal Sampsonia Way. A friend of Liu Xiaobo's, Ms. Liao edited No Enemies, No Hatred, a collection of Liu Xiaobo's essays and poetry.

Dr. Yang Jianli
is President of Initiatives for China and a Fellow at Harvard University. Dr. Yang witnessed the crackdown around Tiananmen Square in 1989, and narrowly escaped China at that time. He returned in 2002, and was promptly arrested, serving five years in a Chinese prison before international pressure led to his release. He is an active campaigner for human rights and democracy in China.