On 13 February political dissident and poet Zhu Yufu, a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), will spend yet another birthday, his 64th, in prison in China.
Arrested in March 2011 and charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power’ through his critical writings, Zhu Yufu was sentenced a year later to seven years in prison. The charges relate to his poem ‘It’s Time’ and several messages he had sent via the internet.
Concerns for Zhu Yufu’s health and well-being have mounted over the course of his detention: numerous reports suggest that he has been denied access to adequate health care and medication, and that his family’s requests for medical parole have been refused. He is also reported to have been denied access to books and letters from his family.
In 2016, fearing for her brother’s life, Zhu Yufu’s sister Zhu Xiaoyan spoke out about his current situation:
Every time I went to see my brother, he was always very strong, telling us not to worry about him. He was going to serve his time in this Communist Party jail.
The thing that moved Zhu Yufu the most [during his time in jail] was hearing that there were people overseas who cared about his case, and who wanted to help democracy activists in China.
Every time I would pass on news to him about people overseas trying to help pro-democracy activists in China, he would get very animated . . . [sometimes] he would be moved to tears.
His wife told me that he would think all that time in jail was worth it, just to know that there were people outside China trying to help him.
But the last time I went to see him, he seemed to be in a trance, as if his spirit had been broken. I felt so bad about that, that I decided I would definitely start speaking out on his behalf. Otherwise he might die in that Communist Party jail.
Zhu Xiaoyan’s words show just how crucial international support can be, how a seemingly simple act can mean the world. This is why we are once again urging supporters to send him a card ahead of his birthday on 13 February and will be continuing to stand in solidarity with Zhu Yufu until he is finally released and reunited with his family. We will also be highlighting his case at the English PEN Modern Literature Festival where poet Lavinia Singer will perform a new piece in his honour at London’s Rich Mix.
Spread the word
Join the call for Zhu Yufu’s immediate release on social media #FreeZhuYufu
Send a card to Zhu Yufu
A simple message of support can mean the world to writers in prison like Zhu Yufu. Please take a moment to send him a birthday card. If possible, please send a photo of your card to email@example.com or share it on social media with the hashtags #FreeZhuYufu and #PENgreetings
Zhejiang Provincial No.4 Prison
P.O. Box 50, Hangzhou City 311100
Send letters of appeal
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of dissident poet Zhu Yufu, imprisoned by the P.R.China for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression;
- Expressing alarm at the crackdown on dissent in which writers, journalists and human rights defenders are amongst those to have been targeted;
- Reminding the Chinese authorities of their obligations under Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which it is a state party.
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Please also send letters of appeal to the Chinese Embassy in London:
His Excellency Mr Liu Xiaoming
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
49-51 Portland Place,
Fax: 020 7636 2981