[China] International Campaign for Poet and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo

10 December 2012 (International Human Rights Day) marks the second anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to our colleague Liu Xiaobo, poet and former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC). To mark the anniversary, PEN International and Front Line Defenders are launching an international campaign to call for his release, and that of all those currently detained in the P.R. China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and Article 35 of its own constitution.

Chinese poet and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo is serving an eleven-year prison sentence for his dissident writings and peaceful activism, the fourth year of which will be marked on 8 December 2012. PEN International and Front Line Defenders are gathering video recordings of writers around the world reading excerpts of Liu’s poetry, which will form the basis for a series of actions and events on and around 10 December (International Human Rights Day). Show your support by taking part in at least one of the following actions.


Press and Publicity

  • Submit recordings of your readings of Liu Xiaobo’s work to the campaign website. The process for uploading a video is very simple. Please click here for instructions and writing samples by Liu Xiaobo (in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Farsi and Chinese).
  • Use the compiled video in public events: www.lighthonestyhrd.org
  • Write articles for publication in the press to celebrate Liu and his work.

Appeals to Chinese Embassies:

  • Send appeals demanding the immediate and unconditional release of poet and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, and all those detained in China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and Article 35 of its own constitution;
  • To achieve the greatest impact, appeals should be sent during the month of December.

Send appeals to:

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

His Excellency Mr Liu Xiaoming
Fax: 020 7636 2981


  • Send cards to as many Chinese writers in prison as you can. This has been shown to afford detainees better treatment in prison, as well as providing moral support. Please email cat@englishpen.org to request the list
  • Join the global petition to the incoming Chinese Chinese President Xi Jingping for the release of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on behalf of 134 Nobel Laureates

*Please do let the English PEN office know about any actions undertaken and send us links to any press coverage via cat@englishpen.org.*

Additional Resources

LIU XIAOBO: Case background

Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2008 and held under ‘residential surveillance’, a form of pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing until he was formally charged on 23 June 2009 with ‘spreading rumours and defaming the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years’. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison on 25 December 2009. The verdict offered as evidence seven phrases that he penned from 2005 until his detention—all either quotations from his many essays or from Charter 08, which Liu had helped draft. 

Liu Xiaobo first received support from PEN International in 1989, when he was one of a group of writers and intellectuals given the label the “Black Hands of Beijing” by the government and arrested for their part in the Tiananmen Square protests. Prior to his current arrest, Liu has spent a total of five years in prison, including a three year sentence passed in 1996, and has suffered frequent short arrests, harassment and censorship.

For more samples of his writings and other resources, go to the PEN America website.  

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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