Doctorow, Albee Protest 11-Year Sentence for Chinese Writer Liu
Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) — Edward Albee, E.L. Doctorow and other prominent writers demanded the release of jailed Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo at a rally today in front of New York’s main public library.
Liu, one of China’s best-known dissidents, was sentenced to 11 years in prison last week in Beijing. He was accused of “subversion.”
“Any time a country imprisons its creative people, you know that’s a country that’s got to change,” Albee, 81, said in an interview before the New York demonstration. The rally was organized by the PEN American Center, an international human- rights group that defends writers around the world.
Anthony Appiah, the center’s president and a Princeton University philosophy professor, expressed outrage at Liu’s sentence and said the group would lobby for his release.
“We are proud to stand here in solidarity with our fellow writer and with his family,” Appiah said as snow swirled around the steps of the library.
Liu, 54, had been held in secret for more than a year before a two-hour trial on Dec. 23. An 11-page verdict was delivered on Christmas.
In addition to the prison sentence, Liu was banned from all political activity for two years. The former literature professor has published essays critical of the Chinese government, particularly its human-rights abuses and crackdown on dissent in foreign journals and on the Internet.
Gregory May, first secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, has called for Liu’s release. Civil-rights organizations, including New York-based Human Rights Watch, also protested the verdict.
Appiah was joined at the rally by other writers, including Albee, Doctorow, A.M. Homes and Jessica Hagedorn. Each participant read from the “seven published sentences” that were cited by the Chinese court in convicting Liu.
Liu also signed Charter 08, a petition demanding free speech, open elections and rule of law in China.
When the reading was over, the PEN protesters and a small group of passersby who had joined the rally marched to the Chinese consulate to deliver a letter protesting Liu’s conviction. Liu says he will appeal the sentence.