November 25, 2008

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

Mr. Meng Jianzhu
Minister of the Public Security
East Chang’an Avenue 14
Beijing 100741
P.R. China

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to protest the sentence handed down to dissident writer and freelance journalist Chen Daojun.

According to our information, on November 11, 2008, the Intermediate People’s Court of Chengdu sentenced Chen Daojun to three years in prison and a three years’ deprivation of political rights. Chen was arrested on May 9, 2008 and charged with “inciting subversion of state power,” which was subsequently dropped and replaced by “inciting splittism” for unclear reasons. At his trial, which took place on November 5, 2008 and lasted two and a half hours, three articles on political issues, including one about the March protests in Tibet, were presented as evidence to demonstrate a purportedly antigovernment stance. No verdict was reached that day; however, on November 11, 2008, Chen was convicted of “inciting subversion.”

PEN American Center believes the arrest and conviction of Chen Daojun stems from an increase in governmental intolerance of dissent and an increase in the harassment and arrest of writers in advance of and following the 2008 Olympics, which we view as a violation of Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. We therefore respectfully call for the immediate and unconditional release of Chen Daojun, as well as the release of all other writers detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

Cc: H. E. Mr. Zhou Wenzhong
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China  to the U.S.
2201 Wisconsin Avenue N.W
Washington, D.C. 20007
Fax: (202) 588-9760

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