March 4, 2011 

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

Meng Jianzhu
Minister of Public Security
14 Dongchang’anjie
Beijingshi 100741
People’s Republic of 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 regarding the renewed crackdown on dissidents and activists in China, especially the administrative detention of Wu Wei (pen name Ye Du), webmaster and Network Coordinator of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), and the criminal detention of members Teng Biao and Ran Yunfei.

According to our information, Wu Wei was forced to leave his home in Haizhu, Guangdong Province, and was arrested on February 22, 2011. He has been under residential surveillance in Fanyu, Guangdong Province, since March 1. His wife, Wan Haitao, reports that police raided their home, confiscating computers, books, and videos, and presented her with an official notice stating Ye Du is being accused of “inciting subversion of state power,” a charge regularly used to silence writers in China. We understand that Wu Wei could face up to six months’ detention without trial, and there are concerns for his well-being.

Police have stepped up their harassment of human rights defenders and activists across the country since February 16, 2011, apparently in response to anonymous calls for “Jasmine Revolution” protests. Over 100 human rights defenders and activists have been arbitrarily detained, harassed, or intimidated, including several ICPC members, and a number of foreign journalists have been assaulted in a targeted campaign to suppress dissent. 

Many have been briefly detained, harassed, summoned, or placed under house arrest, but at least five prominent rights activists and dissidents have reportedly been criminally detained for allegedly “endangering state security” and may face charges of “inciting subversion” or “subversion of state power.” They include writer Ran Yunfei and prominent weiquan (“rights protection”) lawyer Teng Biao, both members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested on February 19, 2011. Both men are feared to be at risk of torture or ill-treatment while in detention. 

We also understand that there is an increasingly widespread use of extra-judicial or “soft” detention, in which government critics are subject to arbitrary arrest without charge, abduction, assault, and intimidation. Of particular concern is Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned dissident writer, former and honorary ICPC President, and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has been held incommunicado under strict house arrest at her home in Beijing since October 18, 2010, and is denied any contact with the outside world. Concerns for her welfare and psychological integrity are acute.

PEN American Center is extremely concerned that the detentions of Wu Wei, Teng Biao, and Ran Yunfei, and the soft detention of Liu Xia, are part of a widespread crackdown on freedom of expression in China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 35 of China’s own constitution. We therefore urge you to recognize China’s obligation to uphold the right to freedom of expression, freedom of information, and freedom of assembly and end the literary inquisition against China’s writers, and to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained for the peaceful expression of their views.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.


Hannah Pakula                                              
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee     
Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ma Zhenchuan Juzhang
Director of the Beijing Public Security Bureau
Beijingshi Gong’anju
9 Dongdajie, Qianmen
Beijingshi 100740
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 106 524 2927

Wu Aiying Buzhang Sifabu
Minister of Justice
10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Beijingshi 100020
People’s Republic of China

H.E. Zhang Yesui
Ambassador of the PRC to the U.S.
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the U.S.
3505 International Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 495-2138

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