New York, March 4, 2008—Five months exactly before the opening of the Beijing Olympics on August 8, International PEN is marking International Women’s Day on March 8 by celebrating the work of three women writers under threat in China: Zeng Jinyan, Tsering Woeser and Li Jianhong. While not actually detained, they are among the many lesser-known dissidents suffering wide-ranging forms of harassment, including brief detentions, periods of house arrest, travel restrictions, loss of work, denial of access to information and communications, heavy surveillance and censorship.

Each of these women is continuing to write in the face of great personal risk. They use the Internet to tell their own stories and those of others living through similar injustices in China. Although their works are all banned within China itself, they strive to keep their voices heard, using what freedom remains to them to seek out overseas websites, publishers, and foreign news outlets. Amid signs of an apparent crackdown on dissent as the Olympic Games approach, aimed at silencing those who may attempt to use the Games as an opportunity to raise criticism of the authorities, there are fears that all three women are at increasing risk of arrest and lengthy imprisonment.

PEN is therefore calling upon its members to protest the restrictions imposed on Zeng Jinyan, Tsering Woeser and Li Jianhong, and demand that they be allowed to live and work freely, in accordance with Article 19 or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Please review the following cases and take action on behalf of our colleagues imprisoned in China:

Zeng Jinyan

Activist and internet writer under house arrest and constant surveillance since husband, Hu Jia, was arrested in December 2007. 

Tsering Woeser

Award-winning Tibetan writer and poet; works banned in China, from employment, and movement restricted.

Li Jianhong

Freelance internet writer subjected to intense police harassment, detentions, and interrogations, periods of house arrest, and several dismissals from posts of employment.

Anna Kushner, PEN American Center (212) 334-1660 ext. 106