China: Activist and dissident writer Hu Jia sentenced

English PEN is shocked by the recent conviction of leading Beijing-based human rights activist and freelance reporter Hu Jia. On 3 April 2008, Hu was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights for ‘inciting subversion of State power’ through his critical online articles and dissident activities. He has decided not to appeal his sentence.

Hu Jia was arrested from his home by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau on 27 December 2007 and tried on 18 March 2008 at the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. According to his lawyer, evidence presented against him in court included five articles published on banned overseas Chinese websites and two interviews given to the foreign media. He is also believed to have been targeted for an open letter he signed, ‘The Real China Before the Olympics,’ which demanded an end to human rights abuses in the run-up to the Olympic Games. His arrest appears to be part of a crackdown on dissidents in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Hu was placed under residential surveillance on 18 May 2007 with his wife Zeng Jinyan having made a documentary film Prisoners of Freedom City about their shared life of harassment and surveillance ( In spite of this, he continued his dissident activities, reporting on human rights abuses and publishing online articles, until his arrest in December 2007. Hu is renowned for his activities on environmental and AIDS issues, and was briefly detained in February 2006.

Hu Jia is presently being held at the Beijing Municipal Detention Centre, and there are serious concerns for his health. Hu suffers from long-term health problems including cirrhosis of the liver, and there are fears that his condition could seriously deteriorate in prison. We therefore seek assurances of his well-being as a matter of urgency.

Hu Jia’s family have also been subjected to harassment and severe restrictions of movement since his arrest, and there are serious concerns for his wife Zeng Jingyan, who has a four-month-old baby and has been under effective house arrest since Hu’s detention. Her case was featured in PEN’s campaign to mark this year’s International Women’s Day (8 March):

Please send appeals:

• Protesting the sentence handed down to activist and dissident writer Hu Jia, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China became a signatory in 1998.
• Expressing concern for his health, and seeking assurances of his well-being;
• Protesting the harassment of Hu’s family.


Government addresses:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China.

Procurator General Mr. Jia Chunwang
Supreme People’s Procuratorate
Beiheyan Street 147
100726 Beijing
P.R. China

Please note that fax numbers are no longer available for the Chinese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for China to forward your appeals:

Her Excellency Mrs. Fu Ying
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
49 – 51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL

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