October 14, 2008

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Nur Bekri
Chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional People’s Government
2 Zhongshaniu
Wulumuqishi 830041
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu
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 concern about the detention of Uighur writer and poet Mehbube Ablesh.

According to our information, Mehbube Ablesh worked for the Xinjiang People’s Radio Station, a government-run station based in Urumqi, until she was dismissed from her post in early August 2008, and arrested by authorities. She is reportedly being held for posting articles critical of Chinese governmental policy and the provincial leadership in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Ablesh is reportedly being held in Urumqi, and no details of any charges have been made public.

PEN American Center is extremely concerned for the well-being of Mehbube Ablesh and believes her detention stems from an increase in governmental intolerance of dissent and an increase in harassment and arrest of writers in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, 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 seek details of any charges against Mehbube Ablesh and respectfully call for her immediate and unconditional release as well as the release of all writers detained 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 People’s Republic of China to the U.S.
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W
Washington D.C. 20007
Fax: (202) 588-9760

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