In the last year, China’s human rights record continued to deteriorate as police stepped-up their nation-wide crackdown on critics with wide-spread reports of torture, disappearances, forced confessions and long-term imprisonments.
The limits that the Chinese authorities have placed on free expression have filled its prisons with endless numbers of dissidents, writers and journalists. These include Uyghur scholar and PEN member Ilham Tohti, currently serving a life sentence; veteran journalist Gao Yu, currently under house arrest; and publisher Gui Minhai, who disappeared from his holiday home in Thailand and is now being held incommunicado.
The People’s Republic of China also continues to persecute writers and activists in the Autonomous Region of Tibet, including writer and monk, Gartse Jigme, serving a prison sentence for his peaceful writings.
At least eight members of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) are currently imprisoned or detained, still more face harassment for their peaceful activities. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former president of the ICPC, Liu Xiaobo is languishing behinds bars serving an 11-year prison sentence while his wife, the poet Liu Xia, has been under house arrest for over five years without ever having been accused of a crime.
The number of detained and imprisoned writers in China is among the highest in the world, while the country was ranked 176th of 180 countries on RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, launched on 26 April.
PEN has for many years expressed concern about serious and sweeping restrictions on freedom of expression in China and, most recently launched an online petition signed by writers from around the world calling for the freedom of their colleagues.
On World Press Freedom Day, PEN renews its calls on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all writers, journalists, bloggers and publishers held for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of opinion, expression and association. PEN also calls on the authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without further delay.
For further background information please visit the PEN International website.
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Write to the authorities
Send appeals to the Chinese authorities:
- Calling for the release of all writers, journalists and publishers imprisoned in violation of their right to freedom of expression in the People’s Republic of China;
- Urging the Chinese authorities to cease its harassment and persecution of members of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, and lift all restrictions on their freedom to exit and enter mainland China, particularly to attend PEN International conferences and to return home;
- Calling on the Chinese authorities to end its practice of enforced disappearance and the use of forced confessions, which contravene an individual’s right to a fair trial;
- Calling on them to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by the People’s Republic of China in October 1998.
Send appeals to:
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025
Salutation: Your Excellency
Send copies to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/china
Please keep us informed of any action you take, including any responses you receive from the authorities.