English PEN protests in the strongest possible terms the refusal yesterday of Hong Kong officials to allow distinguished Chinese writer Yu Zhang, secretary-general of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, into Hong Kong, where he was invited to chair one of the sessions at a World Press Freedom Day Conference.
Yu Zhang was held for ten hours when he arrived from Sweden and then was put on a flight back to Sweden later the same day, according to Hong Kong Journalists Association official Mak Yin-ting. Speaking about the experience, Zhang claimed “They used various uncivilised means, including cheating (because they never intended to let me in) and threatening physical abuse to force me to leave the soil of my own country immediately, regardless of my request for time with my lawyer to challenge their decision…This is an obvious indication that the negative impact of the Beijing Olympics on Chinese citizens’ rights is increasing as the Games draw near.”
In February, 2007, Yu Zhang was allowed into Hong Kong when he arrived from Beijing, but he was then barred from returning to the mainland for “violating national security”.
Dr. Yu Zhang is a Chinese citizen, a research scientist with permanent residence in Sweden. After the 1989 Beijing Massacre he helped to found a human rights association of Chinese students. In 1990, he founded Nordic Chinese, as its publisher and editing director, and later as chief editor until it ceased publication in 1997. In 1999, he joined Tong Xun, an Oslo-based Chinese magazine as editor. In 2002 he joined the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), where he is currently Secretary-General. The ICPC is central to the campaign on Freedom of Expression in China currently under way and has been a major contributor to the ‘We Are Ready for Free Expression’ action.
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A press release was issued today by the Hong Kong Journalists Association, a co-host of the event where PEN is being represented by Joanne Leedom Ackerman, Vice President of International PEN. See below.
International Organisations Call for Freedom of Expression in China
Groups Condemn HK Government’s Denial of Writers and Artists’ Entry to Hong Kong
HONG KONG 30 April 2008:
In the run up to the 100-day countdown of the Beijing Olympics, internationally renowned writers and artists, who planned to come to Hong Kong to attend peaceful activities have been denied entry by Hong Kong government. They include: Zhang Yu, Coordinator, Writers in Prison Committee, Independent Chinese PEN Centre; Jens Galschiot, Danish artist, and two of his colleagues. They were invited by Hong Kong groups for the One Dream: Free Expression in China event, which includes a two-day seminar, and an arts fair. As the final 100-day countdown to the Beijing Olympics begins, prominent international freedom of expression groups* have gathered in Hong Kong for a history-making mission: to send a clear message to the Chinese government: Make the Freedom of Expression Dream a Reality in China.
“Freedom of expression in Hong Kong has empowered it to play an important role in pushing the evolution of China,” says Yu Ying-shih, a world-renowned historian, in remarks celebrating the opening of the seminar on freedom of expression in China and Hong Kong. “However, with the Hong Kong government’s overreaction and censorship, we are very worried the crackdown is being extended to Hong Kong, and China has no sincerity to realize its promises.”
“We have come to Hong Kong to call upon China to fulfill its guarantee to open media access on the mainland, and now we must be certain to include freedom of expression in Hong Kong. Freedom of expression is a basic human right. We strongly condemn the actions of the Hong Kong government. The intent of our events is peaceful,” said Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Vice President of the International PEN.
The Chinese government is urged to honour its pledge when it made its bid for the Beijing Olympics in 2001. It is China’s obligation to ensure that freedom of expression in China is no longer just a dream. This appeal is made against a background of the worsening situation for freedom of expression in China. There are currently at least 39 people in China imprisoned for their writing. These include Han Chinese, as well as Tibetans and Uyghurs. We call for their release.
Despite new regulations promulgated last year to ease the stringent restrictions on news coverage on the Mainland, reporters continue to be deterred from exercising their rights. Telephone connections to reporters’ sources have either been disconnected or the sources have been intimidated. There have been restrictions on travel and movement, as well as physical harassment. Despite this setback, the four days of activity will proceed as planned. On May 1-2 while the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay proceeds through the streets of Hong Kong, there will be a seminar on Freedom of Expression. On May 3, there will be an arts fair and bus tour, including the groups’ submission of its letter to the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central Government in Hong Kong.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/hongkongchinayuzhangrefusedentry/