China: Open letter to President Hu Jintao

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


cc. Mr. Meng Jianzhu
Minister of the Public Security
East Chang’an Avenue 14
100741 Beijing
P.R. China


17 December 2008


Your Excellency,


International PEN, the world association of writers representing 15,000 members in 100 countries, strongly protests the continued detention of prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, former President and current Board member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, who was arrested on 8 December 2008 and reportedly charged with ‘inciting subversion of State power’ for signing Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights. He has been held incommunicado for several days, and concerns for his welfare are mounting.

According to International PEN’s information, writer Liu Xiaobo is among a growing number of dissidents to have been detained or harassed 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. These activities formed part of campaigns across China to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December), and the Charter has now been signed by more than 5000 scholars, journalists, freelance writers and activists.  International PEN is alarmed about an apparent crackdown on those who have endorsed the Charter, and urges that all signatories of Charter 08 are protected from further harassment.


International PEN considers Liu Xiaobo to be held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, and therefore in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, as well as Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution. PEN demands the immediate and unconditional release of Liu Xiaobo and all those currently detained in the People’s Republic of China for the peaceful expression of their opinions.


We would welcome your comments on this matter.

Jiří Grusa
International President

Eugene Schoulgin
International Secretary


Karin Clark
Chair, Writers in Prison Committee


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