May 6, 2010

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 3,400 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 concern about the deteriorating health of imprisoned writer Hu Jia.

According to our information, Hu Jia, a freelance reporter and civil rights, environmental and AIDS activist, was admitted to the Beijing Municipal Prison Hospital for tests on March 30, 2010, following a sharp deterioration in his health. There were fears he might have liver cancer, but an application for medical parole by Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, was refused when authorities claimed the mass on his liver was a “vascular cyst.” Neither Hu nor his family has yet received a full written report of the results of the medical tests performed. Hu was returned to prison in mid-April. Hu Jia has been suffering from long-term health problems including cirrhosis of the liver, and his condition appears to be deteriorating in prison.

On April 3, 2008, Hu Jia was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power,” and sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being tried on March 18, 2008, at the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. According to his lawyer, evidence presented against Hu Jia in court included five articles published on banned overseas Chinese web sites and two interviews given to the foreign media. He is also believed to be targeted for an open letter he signed, “The Real China Before the Olympics,” which demanded an end to human rights abuses in the run-up to the Olympic Games, held in Beijing in August 2008.

PEN American Center is deeply concerned for Hu Jia’s well-being and fears that he is being punished as part of an ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression in China in direct violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, as well as Article 35 of China’s own constitution. We therefore continue to call for his immediate and unconditional release and seek assurances that he is receiving all necessary medical care as a matter of urgency.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent 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, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 588-9760   

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