China: Liu Xiaobo sentenced to 11 years

English PEN is calling on all members to take action on behalf of Liu Xiaobo and others detained in China.


Liu Xiaobo, former President and Board member of Independent Chinese PEN Centre, was sentenced to eleven years in prison on 25 December 2009. He was convicted of ‘incitement to subversion’ for his role in publishing Charter 08, a document calling for political reform and human rights, and articles published online since 2005.


On 25 December 2009 International PEN issued a press release protesting the sentence. PEN continues to demand the immediate and unconditional release of dissident writer Liu Xiaobo and all those detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. PEN Centres worldwide have signed onto a petition organised by the Independent Chinese PEN Centre that gathered over 300 writers’ signatures and which was published shortly before the sentence was announced. The petition got wide press coverage. On New Year’s Eve, PEN America held a press event opposite the Chinese Mission to the U.N. in New York, to demand the release of Liu Xiaobo.


Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2009 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.

Liu Xiaobo is among a large number of dissidents to have been detained or harassed since December 2008 after issuing an open letter calling on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to ratify the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and launching Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights published on 9 December 2008. These activities were part of campaigns to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December), and were initially signed by over 300 scholars, journalists, freelance writers and activists and now have over 10,000 signatories from throughout China.


Liu Xiaobo first received support from International PEN 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. In January 2009 over 300 writers signed a petition calling for his release.
For more information follow these links:


“An Open Letter to Calling on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to Ratify the ICCPR”, 10 December, 2008 (in Chinese)

Charter 08, 10 December, 2008 (in Chinese) (in English)

For writings and an interview with Liu Xiaobo see American PEN’s website:

Please send appeals:

– Expressing dismay about the eleven year sentence handed down to prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo solely for his peaceful dissident activities;
– Pointing out that the sentence breaches the international treaties to which China is a signatory, most notably Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right that specifically guarantees the right to freedom of expression and asking that this breach be taken into consideration when Liu Xiaobo’s case comes to appeal.


Send appeals to:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China
Mr. Meng Jianzhu
Minister of the Public Security
East Chang’an Avenue 14
100741 Beijing
P.R. China
Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. We therefore recommend that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in London asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.


Her Excellency Fu Ying
49-51 Portland Place

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