March 18, 2009

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 Tibetan writer Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang.

According to our information, Internet writer and web editor Kunchok Tsephel was arrested by Chinese security officials at his home in the town of Nyul-ra, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, on February 26, 2009. Although police searched his house and confiscated his laptop during the arrest, no official charges or reason for his incarceration have been made public. He is believed to be held in a Public Security Bureau (PSB) detention center in Gannan. Chinese officials have repeatedly shut down Tsephel’s Tibetan cultural and literary web site Chomei (The Lamp), which he co-founded with Tibetan poet Kyab-chen De-drol in 2005. The site has reportedly been down since March 5 as the authorities strengthened an informational lockdown on the region.

This is not the first time Kunchok Tsephel has been targeted for his work. He was arrested in 1995 on unknown charges by the Gansu PSB and reportedly suffered ill-treatment while in detention for two months.

PEN American Center believes Kunchok Tsephel’s detention to be part of a widespread crackdown on peaceful dissent during the run-up to the 50th anniversary of a national Tibetan uprising and the one-year anniversary of massive protests in the region, and is in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. We therefore seek details of any charges against Kunchok Tsephel and call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all writers imprisoned 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 PRC to the U.S.
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
Fax: (202) 588-9760

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