PEN Petitions China
With its annual World Voices Festival of International Literature coming to town next week, PEN American Center, the human rights organization for writers, is focusing on China as the Beijing Olympic Games approach. Next week a group of writers including Salman Rushdie and Edward Albee will present a petition to the Chinese Mission to the United Nations, calling for the release of 39 writers and journalists imprisoned in China. PEN has been working on the cases of four of those prisoners for several years. Larry Siems of PEN American Center said, “We see this as an opportunity, in the middle of all the noise about China, to make sure that what is not lost is that there are very specific individuals in prison unjustly in violation of their right to free expression, and the Chinese government has the power to release them at a moment’s notice.” On Monday PEN American Center will award its PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award to Yang Tongyan, a Chinese journalist serving a 12-year prison sentence for subversion. His lawyer, Li Jianqiang, will accept the award in his honor.