Four years ago today, while much of the U.S. was dreaming about sugar plum fairies, a court in Beijing sentenced Liu Xiaobo, a PEN friend and colleague, to 11 years in prison for seven sentences of his writing. Less than a year later, he was named the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, and his wife, fellow poet Liu Xia, was put under extralegal house arrest. She has remained there since, only able to see Liu Xiaobo in Jinzhou Prison once a month for a very brief, government-handled visit. We have heard not a peep from Liu Xiaobo since his famous final statement, “I Have No Enemies,” was released two days before his conviction, and Chinese authorities have tried hard to silence Liu Xia as well.

That’s the reason, then, for jailing a writer: repressive regimes do it to shut them up, break their pen, break their will, make them forgotten. But PEN Members and supporters have proven that it’s a futile exercise. None of these writers jailed for their so-called “crimes,” or for the “crimes” of their loved ones, will be forgotten, and their voices will not be lost.

This holiday season while you have a few moments of rest, gather your friends and family to take a moment to send a card of thanks, solidarity, and well wishes to Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo. Even if authorities keep your messages from their hands, the government will see that the outside world cares and that we will not tolerate this kind of behavior from any government towards our colleagues. Let’s flood the gates.

Liu Xia
Apt. 501
Unit 4, Building 17
9 Yuyuantan Nan Lu
Haidian District
Beijing 100038
PR China

Liu Xiaobo
Jinzhou Prison
P.O. Box 999
Jinzhou City 121013
Liaoning Province
PR China