Norsk PEN fears for the safety, health, and well-being of dissident journalist Gao Yu. We plead for the overturning of her wrongful conviction, and appeal to Chinese authorities to aid her in travel to Germany for necessary medical attention.
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Your Excellency, Oslo, 15 April 2016
On behalf of the Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee and Norwegian PEN, I express grave concern at the ongoing harassment of Beijing- based veteran dissident journalist Gao Yu.
Gao Yu has been consistently, unfairly persecuted for her political opinions, and denied her right to freedom of expression. Gao (formerly the chief editor of Economics Weekly) was not only barred from publishing, but has faced multiple arrests and convictions, dating back to her coverage of student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Gao has served over six years in prison in her lifetime, and is now serving another five-year sentence for her conviction of ‘leaking state secrets abroad’.
Gao Yu was released on medical parole on 26 November 2015 following an appeal and the deterioration of her health, including several reported heart attacks while in detention. Though she will be allowed to serve the remainder of her sentence outside of prison, PEN and the WIPC express serious concern for Gao Yu’s well-being.
Gao Yu’s application to travel to Germany to seek medical attention was denied by the Chinese authorities in February 2016. According to reports, she has been left without access to her state pension and has no access to medical insurance. We urge the Chinese authorities to ensure that she is provided with adequate medical treatment, and that her access to her medical insurance is restored. We request that Gao be allowed to travel to Germany for medical treatment, for which she has already been granted a visa.
It is reported that Gao Yu was hospitalized after the Beijing Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement identified her garden for destruction on 31 March 2016. Gao Yu remains in hospital, though her condition has now stabilized.
On 31 March 2016, some 20 or more plainclothes police and urban management officials, known as “chengguan,” came to Gao Yu’s Beijing home without warning, destroyed her garden without a court order, and reportedly beat her son, Zhao Meng.
Norwegian PEN and the WIPC demand that the state-sponsored harassment of Gao Yu cease immediately, and we also call for the quashing of her conviction, as she was convicted and sentenced after an unfair trial for her legitimate professional activities.
Furthermore, we would like to remind the Chinese authorities of their legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As a signatory to the ICCPR, China has a duty to provide for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained, the right to a fair trial, and the right to leave one’s own country. We demand that Gao Yu’s fundamental human rights be protected and fulfilled by China immediately, and for the authorities to refrain from acts that undermine the object and purpose of the ICCPR.
Writers in Prison Committee
Ms Brit Bildøen Ms Iva Gavanski Chair Advisor
Copy: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs