April 10, 2009

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 growing number of detained writers in China suffering from serious medical conditions who have been denied necessary medical care.

According to our information, there are 13 cases of medical neglect that deserve particular attention. Cyber-dissident Guo Qizhen, imprisoned for “inciting subversion,” is suffering from gangrene and has not been granted necessary medical attention. His wife, who brings him medication, is only allowed to visit once every two or three months, and there are fears that he will loose a leg. Convicted for “inciting subversion against the state,” Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong) has been suffering from muscular dystrophy. His condition has worsened considerably since he was first detained in 2006. He is reportedly too weak to write and has been continuously denied medical parole. Sentenced to five years in prison for his dissident writings and civil rights activism, Yang Maodong (aka Guo Feixiong) is said to be in poor health as a result of ill-treatment in prison.

Hu Jia, convicted for “inciting subversion of state power,” is suffering from long-term health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver. He has reportedly been denied medical treatment, and his family has not been granted visitation rights since November 21, 2008. He Depu, sentenced on similar charges, has been suffering from a liver complaint and is in need of supplements and medication. He has reportedly lost a number of teeth and a great deal of weight. Wong Rongqing, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “subverting state power,” is in poor health and can only walk with the use of crutches, according to his family. Kong Youping, who was also sentenced for “subverting state power,” is suffering from deteriorating eyesight and high blood pressure.

Xu Wei, sentenced to 10 years on subversion charges, has reportedly developed a mental illness while in prison. Xu Zerong, who is serving an 11 1/2- year sentence for leaking state secrets, is suffering from high blood pressure and other serious conditions. Sentenced to five years on charges of “incitement to subversion,” Zhang Lin has been in serious need of hospital treatment since 2006 when a slipped cervical disc began affecting his central nervous system. Prison medical facilities are not sufficiently equipped to deal with this medical issue, and he is said to be very weak.

Hada, an ethnic Mongolian who was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for “inciting separatism and espionage,” is suffering from a stomach ulcer and coronary disease. Both afflictions have worsened during his confinement. Yang Tongyan (aka Yang Tianshui), who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for ”subversion,” suffers from diabetes, which has reportedly worsened during his imprisonment. Sentenced to seven years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power,” Zheng Yichun suffers from diabetes, and on May 26, 2008, it was reported that he had developed a blood clot, which has caused paralysis in part of his face and difficulty in moving his right arm. Zheng was sent to a hospital for medical treatment, but returned after doctors declared that his condition was not serious. Because the medical facilities in prison are not capable of dealing with his illness, Zheng’s relatives are requesting that he be released on medical parole. As of now, the government has not responded to these requests.

PEN American Center is deeply concerned by the overwhelming number of cases in which the Chinese government has failed to provide necessary medical attention to these men, and urges that they are granted full access to the medical care they require. We believe that these writers have been imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and therefore call for their immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all other writers currently imprisoned in violation of their rights.

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 PRC to the U.S.
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the U.S.
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20007
Fax: (202) 588-9760

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