December 10, 2008

His Excellency Hu Jintao

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

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

Your Excellencies,

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 extreme concern regarding the detention of prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo.

According to our information, on December 8, 2008, police arrested Liu Xiaobo, former president and current board member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, and searched his home and confiscated computers and other materials. Liu is reportedly being held on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” meaning he could face at least three years in prison if charged and convicted. He is among a number of activists to have been targeted in recent days after issuing an open letter calling on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to ratify the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and launching Charter 08, a declaration outlining political reforms and calling for greater human rights. The manifesto, signed by more than 300 scholars, journalists and freelance writers, was released on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, commemorated every year on December 10.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Liu Xiaobo’s detention stems from an increase in governmental intolerance of dissent and an increase in the harassment and arrest of leading writers and activists who have been organizing activities marking Human Rights Day, 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 call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all others currently detained in China 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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