Writing in China, your signature can mean subversion

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According to International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee, prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, former President and Board member of Independent Chinese PEN Centre, is to stand trial on charges of ‘incitement to subversion of state power’. Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2008 for his role in publishing Charter 08, a document calling for political reform and human rights. He has been held under ‘residential surveillance’, a form of pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing since his arrest. International PEN demands the immediate and unconditional release of Liu Xiaobo and all those detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. PEN also seeks assurances that he is granted access to his lawyer and family as a matter of urgency.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, Liu Xiaobo is accused of ‘spreading rumours and defaming the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years’. He is said to have confessed to the charges against him, which carry a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights, was published on 9 December 2008 as part of a campaign to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Initially signed by over 300 scholars, journalists, freelance writers and activists, the Charter now has more than 8000 signatories from throughout China.

Read the Guardian’s article on Liu Xiaobo’s arrest here.
American PEN Center’s page on Liu Xiaobo contains background information, press releases, and a video message from the writer.

Please consider becoming a member of PEN, which advocates on behalf of writers like Liu Xiaobo, and send your own letter to the Chinese president protesting the charge against Liu Xiaobo, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. You can send your appeal to:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

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