May 16, 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 3,400 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 grave concern regarding the deteriorating health of imprisoned activist and dissident writer Hu Jia

According to our information, Hu Jia suffers from long-term health problems including cirrhosis of the liver, and his condition is said to be deteriorating in prison. His family reports that he has been denied access to specialist medical care, and that they have been denied the right to visit him since early May, when he was transferred from the Beijing Detention Center to the Beijing’s Chaobai Prison, Hangu District, Tianjin City. Hu Jia was sentenced on April 3, 2008, to three and a half years’ jail and one year’s denial of political rights on charges of “inciting subversion to state power” for articles and interviews critical of China’s government.

PEN American Center believes the arrest and detention of Hu Jia stems from an increase in governmental intolerance of dissent and an increase in the harassment and arrest of writers in advance of 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 Hu Jia, as well as the release of all other writers detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention.

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong 
2300 Connecticut Avenue
NW, Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 328-2582

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