August 18, 2009

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

Zhang Qingli
Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Party Committee
Zhonggong Xizang Zizhiqu Weiyuanhui
Lhasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu
People’s Republic of 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 protest the arrest of Tibetan writer and editor Tashi Rabten.

According to our information, Tashi Rabten, a writer from Dzoege (Ch: Ruo’ergai) county in Ngaba, Sichuan Province, was arrested in Lanzhou on July 27, 2009. He was reportedly under surveillance for some time while studying at the Northwestern Minorities University in Lanzhou, and there are fears that he may have been detained for his recent book, a collection of political articles focusing on democracy, freedom, and equality entitled Written in Blood, as well as his participation in the publication of Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain), a banned literary magazine that dealt with the suppression of the 2008 protests throughout Tibet. Copies of his book have reportedly been confiscated by the university. Tashi Rabten’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

PEN American Center believes Tashi Rabten’s detention to be part of a widespread crackdown on peaceful dissent in Tibet, 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 Tashi Rabten and respectfully call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all others detained in Tibet 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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