International PEN condemns the detention of Zhao Shiying, Secretary General of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), who was arrested on January 11, 2010. He is being held incommunicado without charge, and there are fears that he is being held for his dissident writings and activities. PEN is shocked by the arrest of another leading ICPC member, and seeks details of any charges against Zhao Shiying as a matter or urgency. It demands the immediate and unconditional release of 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

Zhao Shiying, pen name Zhao Dagong, is a well-known dissident writer and human rights defender from Shenzhen. He joined the Independent Chinese PEN Center in 2004, and has been a member of its Board since 2005. In October 2009, Zhao became ICPC’s Secretary General. He has been regularly harassed by police since December 2008, but this is the first time that his home has been searched and materials confiscated. 

According to PEN’s information, at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 11, ten police officers entered Zhao’s home and searched the premises, confiscating two computers, books, and notes. Following the search, which lasted more than seven hours, Zhao, his wife, and his son were taken to the local police station. His wife and son were released around 9:00 p.m. that same night, but were warned not to disclose the content of their interrogation. The two were again called in for questioning the following evening, but were released the same night. Zhao Shiying remains in detention.

PEN fears that Zhao is being held for his very public support for former ICPC President Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009, for “inciting subversion of state power” in six articles he had written and his involvement in Charter 08. Zhao is also an original signatory of the Charter, and was questioned about his communications with Liu regarding the Charter’s content. Zhao’s answers were used in the Beijing Procuratorate’s verdict against Liu.

On December 27, 2009, Zhao Shiying published an online essay entitled "Liu Xiaobo's Banner ! – Birthday Wishes to Liu Xiaobo," in which he reaffirmed his willingness to share responsibility with Liu for the publication of Charter 08. There are fears that Zhao’s arrest is part of a crackdown on signatories of Charter 08 and on the Independent Chinese PEN Center.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing serious concern about the arrest of leading dissident writer and activist Zhao Shiying, and seeking further details of any charges against him;
  • Calling for his immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

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 the Public Security
East Chang'an Avenue 14
100741 Beijing
P.R. China

Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. PEN recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.

Please send appeals immediately. Contact PEN if sending appeals after February 28, 2010: ftw [at]