PEN International and the International Publishers Association are deeply concerned at a new wave of arrests of writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists in China in recent weeks, apparently for their public support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. According to reports, four prominent intellectuals – Xu Xiao, Xue Ye, Liu Jianshu and He Zhengjun were arrested on 26 November 2014 alone. Two others – Kuo Yanding and ZHANG Miao – were arrested in October.
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Send appeals to Chinese Embassies:
- Expressing serious concern for the arrest and well-being of Xu Xiao, Xue Ye and Liu Jianshu He Zhengjun, Kuo Yanding and ZHANG Miao;
- Calling for their immediate and unconditional release if, as is feared, they is being persecuted for their legitimate professional activities and peaceful exercise of their right to free expression;
- Protesting the renewed crackdown on government critics in recent months, and reminding the Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”.
Hon. Ambassador Mr Ma Zhaoxu
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-6228 3999
Fax: 0061-2-6228 3990
You can also send appeals to:
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025
The first four cases named in bold below were arrested on 26 November 2014.
Xu Xiao is a prominent Beijing-based writer, editor, and publisher. She is being held in Beijing’s No.1 Detention Center on suspicion of “endangering national security.” In October, Xu Xiao, chief editor of “New Century” publications, was reported to have been included in a list of writers whose works were banned by China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). She is also a volunteer lecturer with Liren College, a non-governmental educational institution which runs private schools and libraries and was developed from Liren China Rural Library, shut down by the authorities in 2012. The executive director of Liren College, Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) honorary member Chen Kun, was also reportedly arrested on 6 October on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Liren College was established under the umbrella of the China Rural Library (CRL), which over the last few years has had several library branches shut down by Chinese authorities.
Xue Ye and Liu Jianshu are independent publishers and bookstore owners also affiliated with Liren College, who are currently held on suspicion of “illegal business practices”, possibly relating to alleged illegal publications or the selling of illegally published books. Xue Ye is executive director in charge of libraries for Liren College and the former president of CRL; Liu Jianshu, who returned to the country after studying at Harvard and Oxford in 2011, since then had been the former deputy general-director of CRL and managing Liren libraries.
He Zhengjun is the administrative director of the Transition Institute, a renowned civil society independent think tank which has now been shut down by the Beijing authorities. Writers Guo Yushan and Huang Kaiping, the Transition Institute’s founder and ex-director, respectively, were arrested in October on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. The charge of creating disorder is commonly used to silence dissent. The Transition Institute, founded in 2007, has carried out investigations in the fields of fiscal reform, local elections, legal reforms, business regulations, citizen participation and education rights. Both of Guo and Huang are ICPC honorary members.
In addition to the four above, writer, poet, independent documentary film-maker and scriptwriter, NGO activist and ICPC honorary member Kuo Yanding has been held since 10 October 2014 on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Also detained is Ms. ZHANG Miao, Beijing-based arts reporter for the German weekly Die Zeit. She was arrested on 2 October 2014 after reporting on the protests in Hong Kong for Die Zeit, and attending a poetry reading by artists in Songzhuang, eastern Beijing, to support the protests in Hong Kong. She was held incommunicado until 12 December 2014, when she was allowed to meet her lawyer, who confirmed that she is charged with ‘creating disturbances’. Her lawyer reported that she is in reasonable health, although she was reportedly assaulted by police during her arrest. She was initially sent to the Beijing No.1 Detention Center of Beijing, before being moved a few days later to a hotel, possibly due to concerns about her arrest raised by the international media and the German government. She was held there for over a month until she was formally arrested on 6 November 2014 by the Tongzhou Branch of Beijing Public Security Bureau. She is now being held in the Tongzhou Detention Center, Beijing.
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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.