China Again the World’s Largest Jailer of Writers, with Free Expression Under Continued Assault
90 Writers Jailed in the People’s Republic of China in 2022, with Six New Cases Reported During the Year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(NOTE: Chinese translation is below)
(NEW YORK)— For the fourth consecutive year, the Chinese government continues to be the world’s largest jailer of writers, according to PEN America’s annual Freedom to Write Index released today. The free expression organization documented 90 cases of writers held in custody in the People’s Republic of China in 2022, with six new cases reported during the year. China also occupied the top spot in PEN America’s Writers at Risk Database with 137 writers in peril of abuse and human rights violations.
China’s leader Xi Jinping began a historic third term as leader of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in October 2022, consolidating political power and signaling that tightened restrictions on free expression would continue.
Despite the government’s tightening control, people in China still found ways to express themselves. Anger towards the government’s COVID-19 policies grew in 2022, including online expression against lockdowns in Shanghai, Lhasa, and parts of Xinjiang that were later censored. In October, a lone protester, Peng Lifa, unfurled banners in Beijing and called for Xi Jinping to resign. His solitary act and slogans inspired members of the Chinese diaspora and expatriates to start a poster campaign in cities around the world.
Anger then erupted into widespread protests against the CCP and its COVID-19 measures that swept across the country in November-December, the biggest direct challenge to the CCP rule since 1989. In Hong Kong, authorities increasingly applied the colonial-era sedition law to target critical expression in the national security crackdown ordered by Beijing.
In 2022, 311 writers were jailed globally according to PEN America’s 2022 Freedom to Write Index, the year-end count of imprisoned writers worldwide. Throughout the year, PEN America documents cases of detained and threatened writers around the world and looks at emerging and country-specific trends that governments deploy in an attempt to muzzle writers and artists. PEN America’s database contains 813 active cases from over 80 countries of writers, poets, online commentators, journalists at risk for their writing and expression.
Following China, the rest of the government’s rounding out the top jailers of writers are: Iran, with 57 jailed writers, Saudi Arabia, with 20 jailed writers, and Belarus, Myanmar, and Vietnam, each with 16.
But for four consecutive years, China has led the world as the most repressive country for writers by jailing, disappearing, and torturing writers for their free expression.
In the dominant Han Chinese areas (excluding Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang), 35 writers were imprisoned, according to the 2022 Freedom to Write Index. This includes Xu Zhiyong, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison on April 10 on trumped-up charges of “subversion.”
In Xinjiang (the Uyghur region), there were 33 writers and scholars imprisoned, which alone represents the third highest otal globally. In August 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights determined that the ongoing mass arbitrary detentions and suppression of fundamental freedoms of Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims in the region may constitute crimes against humanity.
A further 12 writers are in custody in Tibet, of which several have been targeted for expression opposing CCP efforts to marginalize the Tibetan language. There were nine cases of writers held in Hong Kong; the territory was the main driver of the increase in cases (with three new cases in 2022) as the national security crackdown deepened.
“Writers have faced the full might of the Chinese Communist Party’s security apparatus,” said Angeli Datt, who leads PEN America’s China research and advocacy. “They’ve been harassed, disappeared, detained, and tortured. Their families are considered guilty by association and persecuted. Censorship online is the most systematic and sophisticated in the world.
“But,” Datt said, “they persist. From writing about the reality of ordinary life, to writing to keep their language alive from CCP efforts to erase it, or envisioning a different future for China where freedom of expression can flourish, many Han Chinese, Hongkongers, Mongolians, Tibetans, and Uyghurs refuse to be silent.”
In this latest global report, PEN America made targeted recommendations to address the situation for free expression in China, including calling on:
- Beijing to release all writers held in custody and to end its crackdown on freedom of expression, including the suppression of ethnic minority linguistic expression.
- The U.S. government to utilize domestic legislation and other accountability tools to defend free expression and human rights in China.
- The United Nations Human Rights Council to act on the severe restrictions on free expression and human rights in China.
About PEN America’s Freedom To Write Index and Writers at Risk Database
PEN America’s Freedom To Write Index, now in its fourth year, includes case studies of detained writers, an overview of global trends, and country specific threats to writers and free expression. It complements the PEN America’s Writers at Risk Database which catalogs writers, journalists, artists and public intellectuals under threat around the world.
About PEN America
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org
2023 年 4 月 27 日
（纽约）——美国笔会今天连续第四年发布年度写作自由指数，显示中国政府为世界最大的作家监禁者。该言论自由组织记录了2022 年在中华人民共和国的90起监禁作家个案，包括去年报道的6 起新案。 中国还以 137 名作家面临虐待和人权侵犯的危难，在美国笔会的危难作家数据库中名列榜首。
2022 年 10 月，中国领导人习近平作为中国共产党统治的领袖，开始了历史性的第三任期，巩固了政治权力，并显示将继续收紧对言论自由的限制。
尽管政府加强了控制，但中国人民仍找到表达自己的方式。 人们对政府的新冠防疫政策的愤怒，在 2022 年有所增长，包括后来遭审查的上海、拉萨和新疆维吾尔人部分地区反对封城的网络表达。10 月，独自抗议者彭立发在北京展示横幅，要求习近平辞职。 他的孤胆行动和口号激励了海外华人和外籍人士在世界各城市掀起海报文宣运动。
愤怒随后爆发为针对中共及其新冠防疫措施的广泛抗议，并于 11-12 月席卷全国，成为 1989 年以来对中共统治的最大直接挑战。在香港，当局越来越多地以殖民时代使用的煽动法，在北京下令的国家安全镇压行动中，针对批评言论。
根据美国笔会的2022 年写作自由指数，即全球系狱作家的年终统计数，2022年在全球有 311 名作家系狱。美国笔会全年记录了世界各地遭关押和威胁的作家个案，并研究了各国政府为压制作家和艺术家而采用的新趋势和特定国家/地区的趋势。美国笔会的数据库包括 80 多个国家/地区的 813 起活跃个案，涉及作家、诗人、网评员、记者的写作和表达面临风险。
根据 2022 年写作自由指数，在汉族占多数的地区（不包括内蒙古、西藏和新疆维吾尔自治区），有 35 名作家仍遭监禁。 其中包括许志永，他于今年4月10日以莫须有的“颠覆国家政权罪”被判处 14 年徒刑。
另有 12 名作家在西藏遭监禁，其中几人因表达反对中共边缘化藏语的努力而成为打击对象。 在香港的系狱作家个案有九起，该地区由于国家安全打击力度加深，成为个案增加的主要推手（2022 年新增3起个案）。
美国笔会中国研究和文宣负责人代安玲 (Angeli Datt) 说：“作家们面临着中共安全机构的全面威胁，他们遭到骚扰、失踪、监禁和酷刑。他们的家人被株连问罪而遭受迫害。网络审查是世界上最系统而复杂的。