Oslo, 12. November 2014
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Beijing-based veteran journalist, Gao Yu, ‘disappeared’ on 23 April 2014 and was held incommunicado for two weeks before the authorities disclosed, in a televised ‘confession,’ that she was being held on suspicion of ‘leaking state secrets abroad’. She remains detained pending trial, and faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. Her precise whereabouts are unknown, and there are serious concerns for her well-being. PEN believes that Gao Yu is being persecuted for her legitimate professional activities, and is calling for her immediate and unconditional release.
Gao Yu, now aged 70, is former chief editor of Economics Weekly and contributor to the German newspaper Deutsche Welle. At the time of her disappearance she was writing a column titled “Party Nature vs. Human Nature”, which is said to focus on the new leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and its internal conflicts. The article was never submitted, and when she did not attend as scheduled a 26 April event in Beijing to commemorate the 4 June 1989 anti-government protests which were brutally suppressed, friends reported her disappearance. Gao Yu had also been due to travel to Hong Kong to speak at the annual awards ceremony of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), of whom she is a member, on 3 May.
· is concerned about the arrest and well-being of veteran journalist Gao Yu, and urge that she isprotected from ill-treatment and granted access to family and a lawyer of her choice;
· call for her immediate and unconditional release if, as feared, she is being persecuted for her legitimate professional activities;
· remind the Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”.
Carl Morten Iversen