February 17, 2012

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

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 concern regarding the sentencing of writer and democracy activist Zhu Yufu.

According to our information, on February 10, 2012, Zhu Yufu, a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, was sentenced to seven years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” In a trial hearing on January 31, 2012, prosecutors cited Zhu’s poem “It’s Time,” which calls on the Chinese people to raise their voices for change. Zhu was detained on March 5, 2011, during a government crackdown sparked by fears of an Arab Spring-style “Jasmine” revolution inside China, but Zhu’s lawyer says that Zhu had no connection with the online calls for a Jasmine revolution.

PEN American Center is incredibly alarmed by the continuing crackdown on dissent in China, which has seen dozens of writers, journalists, and human rights defenders arrested in the last year alone in violation of their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. As the Chinese Communist Party prepares for a change in leadership this year, we call upon the authorities to promote protections for the human rights of its citizens, including the fundamental right to freedom of expression, and for the immediate and unconditional release of Zhu Yufu and all other writers imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression.

Thank you for your attention to this crucial matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: 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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