CHINA: Crackdown on Dissident Writers

The Writers in Prison Committee of English PEN is alarmed about an apparent crackdown on dissident writers in China.

Three writers, all members of Independent Chinese PEN centre (ICPC), have been detained in recent weeks: they are Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong), Yang Maodong (aka Guo Feixiong) and Chen Shuqing. All three appear to be held for their critical writings and dissident activities. There are serious concerns that they are at risk of ill-treatment in prison. 

English PEN calls for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and seeks immediate assurances that whilst detained they are treated humanely.

According to PEN’s information, prominent writer Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong) was arrested on 6 September 2006 when more than 20 police officers searched his home in Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, Eastern China. His computers were seized and his wife interrogated. He is reportedly charged with ‘incitement to subversion of state power’ for critical articles published online on overseas websites.

Zhang Jianhong, aged 48, is a leading writer in the region and is known for his dissident activities and prolific writings. He was imprisoned from 1989-1991 for his pro-democracy activities. In August 2005 he founded the literary website Aiqinhai.org (http://www.aiqinhai.org/), of which he was editor-in-chief, which was banned by the authorities in March 2006. He is also a regular contributor to the overseas Chinese sites Boxun (http://www.boxun.com) and The Epoch Times (http://www.dajiyuan.com).

Yang Maodong (aka Guo Feixiong), a well-known dissident writer, independent publisher and civil rights activist, has been detained since 14 September 2006. According to his wife, police officers searched their home in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, Southern China, and took away Yang’s computers, cell phone, books, manuscripts and other documents. The following day Yang was reportedly charged with illegal business practices for allegedly publishing and selling 20,000 books using false ISBNs (international standard book number). His wife claims that the charges are totally unfounded. There are reports that he is being ill-treated in detention.

Yang Maodong, aged 40, has been known to the authorities for some time for his critical writings and civil rights activism. He was reviously detained on 12 September 2005 and held without charge until December 2005 for his involvement in and reporting of an anti-corruption campaign by villagers in Taishi Village, Guangdong Province. PEN campaigned for his release. (http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=393&return=33)

Yang has since been subject to repeated harassment by the authorities, most recently on 9 August 2006 when he was reportedly beaten by railway police and briefly detained for carrying an allegedly false ticket.

Yang Maodong is a writer and independent publisher, and his writings include two novels and one collection of short stories. He has also published many essays, poems and articles.

Chen Shuqing, a dissident writer and leading member of Zhejiang Branch of the banned Chinese Democratic Party (CDP), has been detained since 14 September 2006. He went voluntarily to the Daguan Police Station, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, after being summoned the previous day. He was arrested on subversion charges, after which police raided his home and took away his computer and some documents. The reason for the charge is not known, although he is known for his critical articles published on various overseas Chinese Websites such as Boxun, Minzhu Luntan, Dajiyuan, Yi Bao, Guancha, and Xin Shiji.

Chen, aged 42, was previously detained in 1999 for 4 months for his role in the setting up the banned Chinese Democratic Party. After his release, he trained to become a lawyer, but in 2005, after passing his exams, he was refused a lawyer’s licence by the Justice Bureau of Zhejiang Province, who alleged his articles published online had violated China’s Constitution. Chen challenged this ruling in court, but lost the case in both the lower and the appeal courts. He has since been subject to police harassment.

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/chinacrackdownondissidentwrite/

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