Yesterday, 8 December, marked the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Chinese poet and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo. He is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for his dissident writings and peaceful activism, while his wife Liu Xia continues to be held under house arrest
Following his arrest on 8 December 2008, Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ for his part in authoring Charter ‘08, a manifesto calling for protection of universal human rights and democratic reform in China.
In October 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his continued and non-violent struggle for human rights in China. In prison and unable to attend the award ceremony in Oslo, he was represented by an empty chair – a long established tradition to highlight cases of persecuted writers. His wife, poet and artist Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest following the Nobel announcement in October 2010 and, more than four years later, continues to be held without charge or legal due process. Her home is guarded by security officers and she is prevented from communicating freely with the outside world. We believe that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is intended as punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological well-being.
English PEN calls on the Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and unconditionally and lift all restrictions placed on Liu Xia. We also join our colleagues at PEN International, PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Center in expressing alarm over a new wave of arrests of writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists in China in recent weeks, apparently for their public support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. More details available here.
Write to the Chinese authorities:
- Send appeals calling for the immediate and unconditional release of poet and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, and all those detained in China in violation of Article 35 of the Chinese constitution;
- Reminding the Chinese authorities that, as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to ‘refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose’;
- Expressing concern at the extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia which is harming her physical and psychological integrity and calling for all restrictions on her freedom of movement to be lifted.
Send appeals to:
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
You may find it easier to write to the Chinese ambassador in your own country asking him or her to forward your appeal. Most embassies are obliged to forward such appeals to the relevant officials in the country.
His Excellency Mr Liu Xiaoming
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
49 Portland Place
Fax: 0207 636 2981
Or you could use the form below. A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.
[ecampaign to=’email@example.com’ subject=”Release Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia”]
I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, in support of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia.
Liu Xiaobo is currently serving an eleven-year prison sentence for his dissident writings and peaceful activism; this month marks the sixth anniversary of his arrest, on 8 December 2008. I believe that Liu Xiaobo is being held in violation of his right to freedom of expression, and am therefore calling for his immediate and unconditional release, and the release of all those detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and Article 35 of the Chinese constitution.
In October 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his continued, non-violent struggle for freedom of expression and human rights. His wife, poet and artist Liu Xia, was placed under strict house arrest in the days following the announcement of the award to prevent her from attending the prize ceremony. More than four years later she continues to be held without charge. I am extremely concerned for Liu Xia’s physical and psychological integrity and call on the Chinese authorities to ensure that all restrictions against her are lifted immediately.
I would welcome your comments on my appeal.
For further information, please see the PEN International website.