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China: PIWCC writes to Xi Jinping on recent ‘wave of arrests’

December 17, 2014 IN WIP
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Xu Xiao, left, with the writer Zheng Shiping,  who uses the pen name Yefu, at a lecture in September 2012.  Credit:  ChinaFotoPress

Chair: Ekbal Baraka
Egypt Pen
twitter: @ekbal_ba
Human Rights: Lucina Kathmann
December 17, 2014

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council, Beijing
100032 P.R. China

Your Excellency,

The PEN International Women Writers Committee, a standing committee of PEN International, the largest worldwide association of writers, is concerned about a wave of arrests of our Chinese writer colleagues. Our Committee is particularly concerned with the cases of Xu Xiao, Kuo Yanding and Zhang Miao, all detained in October and November of this year.

The continuation of this wave of arrests is the motive for our second letter this month. We are very concerned for these women colleagues and also the men colleagues who have been arrested in the same wave, such as Xue Ye, Liu Jianshu, Chen Kun, He Zhengjun, Guo Yushan and Huang Kaiping, all either writers or in related fields, such as publishers or booksellers.

We beg you to intervene to put a stop to this wave of arrests, so prejudicial to an environment of freedom of expression. These people are not violent; they are being targeted for their support for protests and other expressions of their peaceably-held opinions, which should be their right. We beg for the release of them all.

Lucina Kathmann
International Vice-president

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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.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International