International PEN continues to call on supporters to take action on behalf of Liu Xiaobo and others detained in China. Liu Xiaobo, former president and board member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009. He was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” for his role in publishing Charter 08, a document calling for political reform and human rights, and articles he published online since 2005. On December 25, 2009, PEN issued a statement protesting the sentence. On February 11, 2010, it was reported that his appeal had been rejected by a Beijing court. PEN continues to demand the immediate and unconditional release of dissident writer Liu Xiaobo and all those detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Background Information

Liu Xiaobo was arrested on December 8, 2009, and held under "residential surveillance," a form of pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing until he was formally charged on June 23, 2009, with "spreading rumors and defaming the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years." He was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009.

Liu Xiaobo is among a large number of dissidents to have been detained or harassed since December 2008 after issuing an open letter calling on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to ratify the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, and launching Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights, published on December 9, 2008. These activities were part of campaigns to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10). Charter 08 was initially signed by over 300 scholars, journalists, freelance writers and activists, and now has over 10,000 signatories from throughout China.

Liu Xiaobo first received support from PEN in 1989, when he was one of a group of writers and intellectuals labeled the “Black Hands of Beijing” by the government, and was arrested with the rest of the group for their part in the Tiananmen Square protests. Prior to his current arrest, Liu  spent a total of five years in prison, including three years of "reeducation through labor" beginning in 1996, and has suffered frequent short arrests, harassment and censorship. In January 2009, over 300 writers signed a petition calling for his release.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing dismay about the 11-year sentence handed down to prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo solely for his peaceful dissident activities;
  • Pointing out that the sentence breaches the international treaties to which China is a signatory, most notably Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which specifically guarantees the right to freedom of expression.

Send Your Letter To

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

Mr. Meng Jianzhu
Minister of Public Security
East Chang'an Avenue 14
100741 Beijing
P.R. China

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

Please contact PEN if sending appeals after March 14, 2010: ftw [at]