October 13, 2010

His Excellency Hu Jintao

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

Mr. Meng Jianzhu

Minister of Public Security
East Chang’an Avenue 14
100741 Beijing
P.R. China

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 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 extreme alarm about the crackdown on Chinese writers and intellectuals following the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo. We are particularly concerned that his wife, Liu Xia, is being held under illegal house arrest at her home in Beijing.

We understand that on October 8, 2010, after the Nobel Committee announced that Liu Xiaobo, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence at Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province for “inciting subversion of state power” for his writings, was the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, police immediately descended on Liu Xia’s home in Beijing. According to our information, journalists were blocked from nearing her flat, and her phone line was cut soon after she began giving interviews over the telephone. Liu Xia has since been under de facto house arrest, though police never presented her with any police orders, and she is unable to leave the premises without police escort. Family members and friends need permission from the guards in order to visit. Her phone has reportedly been broken twice by officials, and she is still unable to speak freely with the media.

We also understand that at least 30 intellectuals have been detained, warned, or placed under house arrest since October 8, including eight members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), of which Liu Xiaobo is a co-founder and a former president. Twenty were detained during informal celebrations over the award, and three of those remain detained under eight-day detention orders, including writer and ICPC member Zhao Changqing. Six ICPC members are currently under house arrest, including Deputy Secretary-General Jiang Bo, 1998 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award winner Liu Jingsheng, Tiananmen veteran Zhou Duo, lawyer Teng Biao, writer Liu Di, and ICPC alternate Board Member Zhao Xin.

We are extremely concerned that Chinese authorities have used the occasion of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo to crack down on supporters and freedom of expression. We believe that Liu Xiaobo is being held in violation of this right, as protected by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as China’s own constitution, and that the harassment of his supporters and his wife, Liu Xia, breaches these same treaties and laws to which China is party. We therefore call for Liu Xiaobo’s immediate and unconditional release, as well as an end to the harassment, detention, and threats against his supporters. We also call on authorities to immediately lift all restrictions on Liu Xia and allow her to speak freely whenever and with whomever she chooses.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.

Hannah Pakula                  
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee      

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