Beijing Writer, PEN VP Jiang Qisheng Detained for Charter 08
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, March 31, 2009—Independent Chinese PEN Center Vice President Dr. Jiang Qisheng was detained and interrogated by police in Beijing today in what PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Center believe is a “campaign of intimidation against Charter 08 activists” in advance of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
According to PEN’s information, Jiang Qisheng, a writer and former physicist who was imprisoned for his role in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, was detained by police from the Beijing Public Security Bureau at 9:30 this morning. While he was being interrogated, police searched his home, confiscated three computers, bank cards, books, notebooks, and manuscripts, and cut off his family’s landline. His wife was ordered to hand over her mobile phone. Jiang was questioned extensively about Tiananmen, Charter 08, and Liu Xiaobo, former Independent Chinese PEN Center President and a current board member who has been detained since December 8, 2008 for co-authoring the charter. After being presented with a copy of a draft article about Tiananmen retrieved from his home computer, Jiang was released at 5:00 p.m. and warned against any activities commemorating the massacre.
“We are deeply troubled by the ongoing harassment of Charter 08 signers and supporters, which is a clear violation of the right of China’s citizens to express their political ideas and views, and extremely concerned that Chinese authorities appear to be targeting Liu Xiaobo’s colleagues in the Independent Chinese PEN Center in particular,” said Larry Siems, Director of Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. “We urge the Chinese government to immediately end this campaign of intimidation and permit the free exchange of ideas as enshrined in China’s own constitution.”
Almost all of the 300 original signatories of Charter 08 have been detained or questioned since its release on December 9, 2008. The manifesto, which outlines political reforms and calls for greater human rights and democracy in China, has been signed by over 8,500 people from all walks of life in China. Liu Xiaobo is being held without any formal charges at an undisclosed location in Beijing.
PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Center are among the 145 worldwide centers of International PEN, an organization that works to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers everywhere, to fight for freedom of expression, and represent the conscience of world literature. The centers have been working together to protest China’s imprisonment, harassment, and surveillance of writers and journalists and to seek an end to Internet censorship and other restrictions on the freedom to write in that country. For more information, please visit www.pen.org/china and www.chinesepen.org.
• February 21, 2009: Writers Decry Detentions During Clinton Visit to China
• February 17, 2009: Writer Tohti Tunyaz Released From Prison in China a Week Before Clinton Visit
• January 20, 2009: World Authors Call on Chinese Authorities to Release Liu Xiaobo
• December 9, 2008: Leading PEN Member Liu Xiaobo Detained in China on Eve of Human Rights Day
Larry Siems, (212) 334-1660 ext. 105