PEN to Liu Xiaobo: You Are Not Forgotten
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York City, December 9, 2011—One year after the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to PEN Member Liu Xiaobo in absentia, PEN American Center called on U.S. Congress and the international community to continue to advocate for his release, to “remind the Chinese authorities that we haven’t forgotten him.”
In a video statement released today, PEN President Kwame Anthony Appiah, who last year nominated Liu for the Nobel, reiterated his support for his imprisoned colleague, saying “I have him in my mind every day. I think every day about the fact that this brave fighter for free expression is locked up in his own country.” He continued:
It’s very important that all of us here at PEN and all the friends of PEN work to remind the Chinese that we haven’t forgotten him and it’s their obligation in the name of international law and, indeed, in the name of the Chinese constitution, to release him, to allow him to go back to become one of the free voices of China.
Earlier in the week, PEN briefed Congress on the climate for freedom of expression since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel a year ago, and the prospects for freedom of expression going forward. PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee Chair Marian Botsford Fraser testified that despite three successive crackdowns since Liu Xiaobo was first arrested on December 8, 2008, there is hope that China is changing from within. A campaign for another imprisoned activist, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who is being held incommunicado in his home despite being freed from prison, has led dozens of ordinary Chinese to risk their safety to see for themselves the measures taken to limit his contact with the outside world.
“This surge of activism, of citizens simply asking the question “why,” of seeking and imparting information, regardless of frontiers, lends hope that China is changing, and that change has begun with the people and their exercise of their internationally-protected, inalienable right to freedom of expression,” Fraser said in her written testimony. “People are coming to realize, as [popular Chinese writer] Murong Xuecun said of Chen Guangcheng, that ‘at the moment his freedom was arbitrarily taken away, your freedom came under threat.’”
Applauding this surge, PEN calls on writers, supporters, and governments around the world to continue to call for Liu Xiaobo’s release, and support the space that is growing inside China for freedom of expression.
PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of PEN International, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary 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
Sarah Hoffman, (212) 334-1660 ext. 111