PEN International condemns the imprisonment of the writer Zhu Yufu, who has been charged with “subversion” for a poem posted online. PEN calls for his immediate and unconditional release, and that of all those currently detained in the People’s Republic of China for peacefully expressing their views.

Background Information

The following information is given by The Guardian:
Chinese authorities have indicted veteran dissident Zhu Yufu on subversion charges for writing a poem urging people to gather to defend their freedoms, his lawyer said. He is the latest activist to face such charges.
Zhu, 60, from the eastern city of Hangzhou, was arrested last April for "inciting subversion of state power". No trial date has been set, his lawyer, Li Dunyong, said on Tuesday.

"The main reason for the indictment was a poem he had written calling for people to gather. He had written the poem around the same time there was chaos [in the Middle East]," Li said. "He believes in freedom of expression."

Li collected the indictment on Monday from a court in Hangzhou and met Zhu, whom he described as being in a good condition.

Calls to the Hangzhou intermediate court were unanswered on Tuesday.

The authorities disclosed their decision to prosecute Zhu nearly a year after Zhu had written the poem, titled It's time.

A verse reads: "
It's time, Chinese people!/the square belongs to everyone/the feet are yours/it's time to use your feet and take to the square to make a choice." Zhu's lawyer said the poem had been published online.

Li said, however, that Zhu had nothing to do with the online calls for 'Jasmine revolution' rallies inspired by uprisings in the Middle East.

Police rounded up dozens of dissidents in response to the calls, which began on an overseas Chinese website that is blocked to most people in mainland China by censorship walls. The attempted rallies were tiny and the demonstrators were quickly outnumbered by hundreds of police and security guards.

Li said he will defend Zhu on the basis of freedom of expression but believes Zhu's prospects for victory look bleak.

"You can't be optimistic about anything in China," he said. "In this country, he'll be punished harshly."

China's Communist party is preparing for a leadership handover late this year, when its determination to fend off political challenges to its rule is likely to intensify…

Read the full text of the poem "It’s Time," translated into English by A.E. Clark.

More Information:

Write A Letter

  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Zhu Yufu, imprisoned by the People's Republic of China for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression;
  • Expressing alarm at the crackdown on dissent, in which writers, journalists, and human rights defenders have been targeted;
  • Reminding the Chinese authorities of their obligations under Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a state party.

Send Your Letter To

President of the People’s Republic of China
His Excellency Hu Jintao
State Council
Beijing 100032
People's Republic of China

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for China in your country if possible.

Please contact PEN if sending appeals after February 29, 2012: ftw [at]