December 3, 2008

His Excellency Hu Jintao

President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Your Excellency,

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 express our serious concern regarding the detention of Internet writer and activist Guo Quan.

According to our information, on November 13, 2008, the police arrested Guo Quan at his home in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, and confiscated his articles and computer. He has reportedly been charged with “inciting subversion of state power.” It is feared that Guo’s detention may be linked either to online writings on his blog, in which he allegedly called for democracy and criticized the Nanjing government for its decision to build a chemical plant in the city, or to his role in organizing a new political party, the China Xinmin Party, in December 2007. He is reportedly being held at the Nanjing City Public Security Bureau.

This is not the first time Guo Quan has been targeted for his outspoken views. In May 2008 he was detained for ten days for “violating of public order” following the publication of seven articles on mainland Chinese web sites that criticized the government’s emergency response to the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the safety of certain infrastructures. He has also been banned from teaching as a professor at Nanjing University due to his political activities.

PEN American Center believes Guo Quan’s detention 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 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. We therefore respectfully call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all other writers detained solely for the peaceful expression of their views.

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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