China: Writer and Independent Chinese PEN Officer Zhao Shiying detained

***UPDATE: English PEN welcomes the release of Zhao Shiying, dissident writer, activist and Secretary General of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), after being detained for two weeks. There were fears that Zhao Shiying was arrested for supporting Liu Xiaobo, former ICPC president, sentenced to eleven years in prison in December 2009. For more information, please click here. ***

English PEN condemns the detention of Zhao Shiying, Secretary General of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), who was arrested on 11 January 2010. He is being held incommunicado without charge, and there are fears that he is held for his dissident writings and activities. We are shocked by the arrest of yet another leading ICPC member, and are seeking details of any charges against Zhao Shiyang as a matter or urgency. Furthermore, we continue to demand the immediate and unconditional 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.

American PEN gives the following background:

Zhao Shiying, pen name Zhao Dagong, is a well-known dissident writer and human rights defender from Shenzhen. He joined the Independent Chinese PEN Center in 2004, and has been a member of its Board since 2005. In October 2009, Zhao become ICPC’s Secretary General. He has been regularly harassed by police since December 2008, but this is the first time that his home has been searched and materials confiscated.


According to PEN’s information, at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 11, ten police officers entered Zhao’s home and searched the premises, confiscating two computers, books, and notes. Following the search, which lasted more than seven hours, Zhao, his wife, and his son were taken to the local police station. His wife and son were released around 9:00 p.m. that same night, but were warned not to disclose the content of their questioning. The two were again called in for questioning the following evening, but were released the same night. Zhao Shiying remains in detention.


PEN fears that Zhao is being held for his very public support for former ICPC President Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009, for “inciting subversion of state power” in six articles he had written and his involvement in Charter 08. Zhao is also an original signatory of the Charter, and was questioned about his communications with Liu regarding the Charter’s content. Zhao’s answers were used in the Beijing Procuratorate’s verdict against Liu.

According to our information, Zhao Shiyang has been interrogated several times since December 2008 about his involvement with dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, and his statements were included in the Court Verdict against Liu. On 27 December 2009, Zhao Shiyang published an online essay entitled ‘Liu Xiaobo’s Banner! – Birthday Wishes to Liu Xiaobo’ in which he reaffirmed his willingness to share responsibility with Liu for the publishing of Charter 08. There are fears that Zhao’s arrest is part of a crackdown on signatories of Charter 08 and on the Independent Chinese PEN Centre.

For further background on the sentencing of Liu Xiaobo and Charter 08, please click here.


Please send appeals:


– Expressing serious concern about the arrest of leading dissident writer and activist Zhao Shiying, and seeking further details of any charges against him;
– Calling for his immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.


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 the UK asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments:

Her Excellency Fu Ying
49-51 Portland Place

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