Media Advisory: “If They Tell You I’m Free, Tell Them I’m Not Free”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A digital campaign to protest China’s violations of free expression
April 30, 2013, at 8 pm at the PEN Literary Gala, honoring Philip Roth
American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West and 79th Street, New York, NY
Press wishing to attend PEN Gala RSVP to Bruce Mason, [email protected]
This Twitter campaign marks a first for PEN’s advocacy of those targeted and jailed because of what they write. The goal of this digital campaign is to raise awareness about the constraints on free expression in China and the punishments endured by writers who defy the censors and challenge the system. The #ShesNotFree campaign will spread through PEN’s global community of more than 20,000 leading writers in more than 100 countries. It includes an image that is intended to #JumpTheFirewall and be shared on China’s microblog platforms.
#ShesNotFree is inspired by Liu Xia, the wife of jailed former Independent Chinese PEN Center President and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo. Held for over two years under house arrest without phone or Internet, Liu Xia left home last week to attend her brother’s trial for fraud. Leaving the courthouse, she shouted out her car window: “I am not free. If they tell you I’m free, tell them I’m not free.”
“Liu Xia’s appeal is a call to action that compels us to speak out for her and for all dissidents who are victimized by the Chinese government’s repression of free speech and free thought,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN American Center. “By activating PEN’s global network of writers to write and tweet and share an image on behalf of Liu Xia, we will send a powerful message that she’s not free, and that China is waging a costly and unwinnable fight by trying to suppress its own greatest asset: the creativity and ingenuity of its own people.”
The launch of #ShesNotFree and #JumpTheFirewall will set the stage for the release of PEN’s groundbreaking report, The PEN Report: Creativity and Constraint in Today’s China, on Friday, May 3, World Press Freedom Day. The report documents an escalating crackdown on writers and activists since 2008. It also charts the pressure from below mounted by a brave citizenry that is increasingly determined to break through China’s vast firewall. It includes 10 essays by leading writers and dissidents from China including Liao Yiwu, Murong, Teng Biao, and Gao Yu and recommendations to China’s new president, Xi Jinping.
The report will be officially released on Friday, May 3, at New York’s The Public Theater at 11:30AM featuring authors Salman Rushdie and Tony Kushner, Chinese dissidents Yu Jie and Chen Guangcheng, and PEN International President John Ralston Saul.
PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of International PEN, the world’s leading literary and human rights organization. The Freedom to Write Program of PEN American Center works to protect the freedom of the written word wherever it is imperiled. It defends writers and journalists from all over the world who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted, or attacked in the course of carrying out their profession. For more information on PEN’s work, please visit www.pen.org
For more information contact:
Joanne Levine, (917) 375-4678, [email protected]