China: A joint statement on President Obama’s visit to China

63 PEN Centers and 11 organizations worldwide has issued today a joint statement calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to demand the Chinese Government to release all prisoners of conscience, including PEN members Dr. Liu Xiaobo, Shi Tao, Yang Tongyan and other imprisoned writers and human rights defenders, during his upcoming visit to China.


The statement has been co-signed by several leading officers of the Internatinal PEN, including the former and current International Presidents Jirí Grusa and John Ralston Saul, Vice-president Gloria Guardia, International Secretary Eugene Schoulgin, former and current chairpersons of Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) Karin Clark and Marian Botsford Fraser, and WiPC member Edwood Kovac:


Dr. Liu Xiaobo, prominent Beijing writer and honorary president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, has been formally arrested for four months.


He has been detained for eleven months and accused of “inciting subversion of state power” simply because in December last year he took part in drafting Charter 08, which demands that the Chinese government improve its political system and human rights situation, and because he penned several articles critical of government officials. He is one of many writers and human rights defenders to be imprisoned and prosecuted for this offence.


US President Obama received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on 9 October. He will visit Beijing and Shanghai on 15-18 November to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The US House of Representatives had already passed resolutions to demand for the immediate release of Liu Xiaobo and Sichuan human rights defenders Tan Zuoran and Huang Qi who investigated the Sichuan earthquake last year. The House of Representatives also demanded that President Obama discuss the cases of Tan and Huang during his visit to China. Again, we call on President Obama to live up to the objective of the Nobel Peace Prize and the duties it entails. When he meets with Chinese leaders, he should ask the Chinese government to release all prisoners of conscience, including Liu Xiaobo, Tan Zuoren, Huang Qi, Guo Quan, Xie Changfa, Gao Zhisheng, Hu Jia, Shi Tao, Chen Guangcheng, Guo Feixiong, Jin Haike, Lu Gengsong, Yang Tongyan and Zheng Yichun.


We, therefore, demand that President Obama:


1) Realize the mission of the Nobel Peace Prize and demand the Chinese Government release all imprisoned writers and prisoners of conscience


2) Respond to the resolutions passed by the US House of Representatives demanding the immediate release of Liu Xiaobo, Tan Zuoren and Huang Qi


We also call on all other heads of state to use their influence to persuade the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo and all imprisoned writers and prisoners of conscience.


Co-signed by:


Independent Chinese PEN Centre
Jirí Grusa,former international president of the International PEN

John Ralston Saul, current international president of the International PEN

Gloria Guardia,vice-president of the International PEN

Eugene Schoulgin, international secretary of the International PEN

Karin Clark, former chairperson of Writers-in-Prison Committee of the International PEN

Marian Botsford Fraser, current chairperson of Writers-in-Prison Committee of the International PEN

Edwood Kovac, Committee member of Writers-in-Prison Committee of the International PEN

PEN American Center

Austrian PEN

PEN Canada

German PEN

French PEN

Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese

China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group

Scottish PEN

German Writers Abroad PEN

Pakistani PEN

Serbian PEN

Slovenian PEN

Russian PEN

Vietnamese Writers’ Abroad PEN

Uighur PEN

Tartar PEN

Hungarian PEN

Taipei Chinese PEN

Swiss Romand PEN

Tibetan Writers’ Abroad PEN

Zambian PEN

Basque PEN

Dutch PEN

Turkish PEN

Mongolian PEN

Swiss Italian PEN

Italian Trieste PEN

Swiss German PEN

Swedish PEN

Polish PEN

Portuguese PEN

Slovakian PEN

New Zealand PEN

Norwegian PEN

Kurdish PEN

Kazakh PEN

Egyptian PEN

Moroccan PEN

Japanese PEN

Korean PEN

Belarus PEN

Haitian PEN

Galician PEN

Italian PEN

Lithuanian PEN

Belgian PEN

Algerian PEN

Croatian PEN

Sierra Leone PEN

Danish PEN

Czech PEN

Nepal PEN

Sydney PEN

Melbourne PEN

Bulgarian PEN

Colombian PEN

Cuban PEN

English PEN

Iran PEN

Malawi PEN

Palestinian PEN

South African PEN

Finnish PEN

Icelandic PEN

Hong Kong Journalist Association

Hong Kong Christian Institute

Beijing Spring Qi’s Cultural Foundation Princeton

China Initiative Christians For Hong Kong Society

Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee

Laogai Research Foundation

Deng Liberty Foundation

Taipei Society

International PEN is the oldest human rights organization and international literary organization. The Independent Chinese PEN Center is among its 145 member centers and aims to protect Chinese writers’ freedom of expression and freedom to write worldwide and advocates for the rights of Chinese writers and journalists who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted or harassed.


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