New security law threatens Hong Kong's freedom of speech, warns PEN in Scandinavia

11 June 2020

China’s Legislative Assembly, the National People’s Congress, approved on May 28 the plan to pass a security law for Hong Kong. The decision has generated strong reactions, not least from Hong Kong’s own population. The British response has been particularly strong. Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997. China and the United Kingdom agreed that Hong Kong should gain self-governing status in the Chinese People’s Republic, and that Hong Kong should retain its economic and political system for 50 years after the transfer – that is, until 2047.

The policy was called «One country – two systems».

With the new Security Act, the Chinese authorities are breaking this agreement. This is the reason for the unrest that has haunted the region in recent years. Citizens were assured that they would be allowed to keep their freedoms, but instead they felt that China was constantly intervening in governance and gradually narrowing their freedom of expression. Writers, artists, journalists and academics now feel unsafe. In 2016, several bookstores were abducted by Chinese security agents, the Swedish-Chinese bookseller and publisher Gui Minhai are still incarcerated in China, he was sentenced to ten years in prison in February this year. Hong Kong’s large academic environment is also met by Chinese demands to show «responsibility» and to act «patriotic».

The new legislation will prevent «separatism», «rioting», «terrorism», «treason» and «foreign interference». In addition, China is allowed to set up its own security agencies in Hong Kong. With the help of new technology, the management in Beijing will be able to monitor each individual inhabitant of the former crown colony.

Norwegian PEN, Swedish PEN and Danish PEN are deeply concerned about developments in Hong Kong and the consequences of the new law. We stand in solidarity with everyone working for freedom of speech in Hong Kong.

In addition to the United Kingdom, the EU and a large number of other countries, such as the United States, Canada and Australia, have clearly distanced themselves from China’s attempts to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Norwegian, Swedish and Danish PEN encourages the governments of the three countries to present a joint condemnation of the new legislation created to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and stifle Hong Kong’s freedom of expression.

Kjersti Løken Stavrum, President Norwegian PEN
Per Øhrgaard, President Danish PEN
Jesper Bengtsson, President Swedish PEN

China: Letter to Li Zhanshu Chairman of the National People´s Congress of the People´s Republic of China

His Excellency Mr. Li Zhanshu
Chairman of the National People´s Congress of the People´s Republic of China

Oslo, 13 May, 2019

Statement from Norwegian PEN in connection with official visit to Norway

Norwegian PEN welcomes your visit to Norway. Your visit reflects the fact that relations between China and Norway have entered a new and promising phase. We hope that your visit will contribute to further cooperation that will benefit both countries.

Norwegian PEN hopes that you will be able to enjoy the hospitality of the people of Norway and to experience our National Holiday on 17 May, in particular the Children’s Parade, which is the core symbolic event of that day. This even reflects our conviction that the broad participation of the young generation – from all parts of the society – is of crucial importance in order to safeguard the independence, cohesion and prosperity of our country.

However, while welcoming you to Norway, Norwegian PEN would like to express serious concern about the situation for certain peoples and individuals in your country. Norwegian PEN would, in particular, raise the current plight of the Uighur people in Xinjiang and the treatment of the Tsinghua scholar Xu Zhangrun.

Since 2008, the conditions for various peoples, social groups and individuals in China have deteriorated as a result of stricter government control and oppression. The situation for the Uighur people in Xinjiang and the treatment of Xu Zhangrun are prominent examples of this trend.

The government of the People´s Republic of China has implemented a number of measures in the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, resulting in the internment of the Uighur population and of other minority nationalities who have traditionally inhabited the region. The inhuman measures taken are contrary to the idea of regional autonomy, and are unprecedented in the recent history of the People´s Republic of China.

As a result, it has been verified by various credible sources that at least 1 million Uighurs and others have been placed in detention camps without a fair trial, among them 386 prominent Uighur intellectuals. Some of them have died after their release as a result of the treatment they have been exposed to. As you are aware, the prominent Uighur intellectual Ilham Tohti is serving a life sentence as a result of his outspoken defense of vital Uighur interests.

Current policies, in our opinion, amount to forced assimilation of the peoples of Xinjiang. We urge you to reverse the present policies and establish genuine autonomy for the peoples of Xinjiang, to which they are entitled according to Chinese laws governing regional autonomy.

Professor of Law at Tsinghua University, Xu Zhangrun, has written a number of essays, some of which have offered constructive criticism, while others have provided honest but harsh criticism of the present policies of the Chinese Communist Party. This has resulted in a number of measures recently taken against professor Xu. He has been stripped of his academic duties, banned from teaching and tutoring, and has been put under investigation. The case of Professor Xu is a good example of a responsible intellectual raising his voice against abuse of power, a right that was granted to intellectuals throughout Chinese history.

The case of Professor Xu unfortunately illustrates a distinct trend over the last ten years, namely that legitimate scholarly and political criticism by outspoken intellectuals is silenced and their publications are banned. They experience being fired from their jobs, forced into exile or put under detention. Such punitive measures of silencing, humiliating, banning, or incarcerating legitimate voicing of opinion will in the long run damage China’s intellectual and creative development.

Unfortunately, the ongoing tightening of control over academic life also reflects a widespread repression of Chinese civil society today.

Excellency, while not intending to interfere in your internal affairs, Norwegian PEN urges you and the Chinese government to reverse these trends, to respect the rights of the Uighur population and to ensure that freedom of expression is protected.

We hope your visit to Norway and the celebration of 17th May will inspire you in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Kjersti Løken Stavrum                                                           Harald Bøckman
President Norwegian PEN                                                 Norwegian PEN                                                                                                                      China Committee

2018 China: Liu Xia

WORLD POETRY DAY 2018: Liu Xia is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. Xia has been held under unofficial house arrest in her Beijing apartment since her late husband, the poet Liu Xiaobo, was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010. PEN International believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity. Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee calls for the immediate and unconditional release from extra-judicial house arrest of the poet and artist Liu Xia, and for all restrictions on her freedom of movement and expression to be lifted.

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

Oslo, 21.03.18

Your Excellency,

Today, on World Poetry Day, our thoughts are with poet Liu Xia who has been held in unofficial house arrest during her husbands long imprisonment, and after his death still lives under strong surveillance. There are reports that Liu Xia’s mental and physical health continue to suffer due to her detention. PEN International believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity.

Together with our PEN colleagues worldwide we call for the immediate and unconditional release from extra-judicial house arrest of the poet and artist Liu Xia, and call for all restrictions on her freedom of movement and expression to be lifted. Liu Xia should be granted access to all necessary medical care.

We urge Chinese authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, and freedom of movement and reminding them that as a signatory to the ICCPR China is obliged to ‘refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Chinese Embassy of Norway

2017: China: Liu Xia

In deep concern for the health and well-being of poet and artist Liu Xia, Norwegian PEN calls for all restrictions upon her to be lifted immediately and unconditionally if, as it is feared, she remains under unofficial house arrest.

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

Oslo, 08.08.2017

Your Excellency,

We in Norwegian PEN are, together with PEN members all over the world, lamenting the death of writer and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiabo. Following his death, we hoped to see that the restrictions placed on his wife Liu Xia would be lifted. As far as we know, this has not happened. We have reports saying that attempts to contact her have been prevented by the Chinese authorities, despite assertions that she is free.

In deep concern for the health and well-being of poet and artist Liu Xia, Norwegian PEN calls for all restrictions upon her to be lifted immediately and unconditionally if, as it is feared, she remains under unofficial house arrest.

Since Liu Xia was placed under unofficial house arrest without charge or legal due process, we allow ourselves to point out that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Chinese authorities are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”. The treaty provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial.

We hope that Liu Xia will be granted her rights and will get a fair chance to take up a normal life after all she has been going through.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen                                                         William Nygaard
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee         President

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China: Free Liu Xiaobo and grant him all necessary medical care

In a letter to the Chinese President Xi Jinping, Norwegian PEN urges the Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, and provide Xiaobo with all necessary medical care.

President Xi Jinping
c/o Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China, Oslo, Norway

Oslo, 28 June 2017

Dear President Xi Jinping,

Chinese poet and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2008 and sentenced to 11 years in prison for his dissident writings and peaceful activism. His imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power” related to his part as the leading author behind “Charter ‘08”, a manifesto calling for protection of universal human rights and democratic reform in China.

In October 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his continued and non-violent struggle for human rights in China. In prison and unable to attend the award ceremony in Oslo, he was represented by an empty chair.

Norwegian PEN is grateful for Liu Xiao´s temporary release from prison, but saddened by the fact that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  In spite of his “temporary release” he is still being guarded by the authorities and his wife is still in house arrest.

We hereby urge the Chinese authorities to allow Liu Xiaobo to travel and seek medical treatment outside China if he so wishes.

We also urge the Chinese authorities to release his wife, Liu Xia, from her house arrest in order for her to be with her husband at this critical time in their lives.

Sincerely yours,

William Nygaard
Norwegian PEN

Brev til statsminister Erna Solberg: Innspill om menneskerettighetssituasjonen i Kina i sammenheng med statsministerens besøk til landet

I anledning statsminister Erna Solbergs reise til Kina i disse dager, har Amnesty International i Norge, Norsk PEN, Den norske Tibet-komité, Den norske Helsingforskomité og Den norske advokatforeningens menneskerettighetsutvalg skrevet et felles brev til statsministeren, der vi oppfordrer henne til å uttrykke en klar forventning overfor kinesiske myndigheter om at Kina respekterer menneskerettighetene i tråd med internasjonal rett.

Statsminister Erna Solberg
Statsministerens kontor
Postboks 8001 Dep
0030 Oslo

Innspill om menneskerettighetssituasjonen i Kina i sammenheng med statsministerens besøk til landet

Innledningsvis vil vi, de fem undertegnende organisasjonene, gjerne fastslå at vi synes det er positivt at Norge og Kina gjenoppretter normale politiske relasjoner. Den moderne menneskerettighetstanken bygger på at disse rettighetene er grunnverdiene for det internasjonale samfunnet og skal beskyttes og fremmes gjennom at landene holder hverandre ansvarlige. En god dialog mellom statene er forutsetning for at dette skal fungere.

Kinesiske myndigheter har imidlertid lagt seg på en linje der de prøver å bruke sin økonomiske og politiske makt til å tvinge andre land til å ti stille om kritikkverdige menneskerettighetsforhold i Kina. Hvis de lykkes med det, blir det ikke bare livsfarlig for alle de modige menneskerettighetsforkjemperne i landet som er helt avhengig av at det internasjonale samfunnet ikke svikter dem, det sender også svært farlige signaler til kinesiske og andre lands myndigheter om at internasjonale avtaler om menneskerettighetene lett kan forhandles bort.

Kina har store menneskerettslige utfordringer som på en del områder er resultat av en bevisst og systematisk politikk. Både sentrale og lokale styresmakter står ansvarlig for omfattende brudd på sivile rettigheter, fra ytrings- og trosfrihet til retten til rettferdig rettergang, men også systematisk diskriminering og marginalisering av enkelte etniske grupper.

Ytringsfrihet og forfølgelse av advokater
I de siste årene har vi sett en alarmerende opptrapping av forfølgelse, trakassering og fengsling av personer som stiller kritiske spørsmål til måten Kina styres på. De som rammes hardest er personer som avslører maktmisbruk og ulovligheter fra myndighetenes side eller prøver å oppmuntre til en fredelig offentlig debatt blant kinesere om hva slags stat de vil leve i. I tillegg blir stadig flere advokater arrestert eller på andre måter hindret i å utøve sitt yrke hvis de prøver å ta opp saker som er ubekvemme for styresmaktene.

9. juli 2015 satte kinesiske myndigheter i gang en klappjakt på menneskerettighetsforkjempere og advokater. I løpet av en måned ble minst 248 personer arrestert eller avhørt. Advokaten Zhou Shifeng og menneskerettsforkjemperne Gou Hongguo og Hu Shigen ble senere dømt til flere års fengsel for å ha prøvd å «undergrave staten». Seks andre av de som ble arrestert i juli 2015 er fortsatt i varetekt, siktet for «å søke krangel», «forsøk på å undergrave staten» og lignende anklager, og minst 20 har bitt løslatt på prøve og er delvis fortsatt under streng politikontroll.

Myndighetenes og Kommunistpartiets kontroll over det kinesiske rettsvesenet og forfølgelsen av advokater som ikke gjør noe annet enn jobben sin, undergraver kinesernes rett til rettferdig rettergang og et samfunn basert på lov og rett og gjør det vanskelig og svært risikabelt for landets borgere å prøve å forsvare seg mot maktmisbruk, korrupsjon og andre overgrep fra myndighetspersoner.

Sensur og overvåking av internett
Kinesiske myndigheters omfattende inngrep i menneskenes rett til å søke, motta og dele informasjon rammer ikke bare menneskerettighetsforkjempere. Kinesiske myndigheter har brukt enorme ressurser på å bygge det som muligens er verdens mest avanserte system for overvåking og sensur av internett. I november i fjor vedtok Folkekongressen en ny lov om internettsikkerhet, som gir myndighetene store fullmakter til å bryte ytringsfrihet og retten til privatliv. Loven forbyr blant annet bruken av internett til å «skade nasjonale interesser» eller «undergrave den sosiale ordenen» – formuleringer som ofte blir brukt som grunnlag for å fengsle personer som avslører menneskerettighetsbrudd eller på andre måter kritiserer myndighetene.

Lover og regler som definerer hvilke meningsytringer som er tillatt både på internett og i tradisjonelle medier er generelt svært utydelige og vide, og de åpner for alle slags tolkninger fra myndighetenes side. Dette fører til omfattende selvsensur blant journalister, bloggere, forfattere og andre som uttrykker seg offentlig og kveler nødvendig samfunnsdebatt.

Det er ikke bare uklare lover og fraværet av et uavhengig rettssystem som undergraver rettssikkerheten til kineserne, men også hemmelighold rundt rettslige temaer som myndighetene oppfatter som sensitive. Dette blir spesielt tydelig i sammenheng med bruken av dødsstraff i Kina. Etter alt å dømme, er det fortsatt flere tusen mennesker som blir henrettet i Kina hvert år. Kinesiske myndigheter påstår riktignok at bruken av dødsstraff blir stadig mer begrenset, og at den bare blir brukt «mot et lite antall ytterst alvorlige forbrytere», men samtidig behandles informasjon om dødsstraff fortsatt som statshemmelighet. Mangelen på konkret statistikk om bruken av dødsstraff i Kina gjør det ikke bare umulig å bedømme om den påståtte positive utviklingen er reell, men hindrer også enhver meningsfull debatt om dette temaet innad i landet.

Diskriminering av tibetanere og uigurere
Etniske tibetanere er utsatt for omfattende diskriminering og brudd på retten til ytrings-, religions- og forsamlingsfrihet, både i den autonome regionen Tibet og i andre deler av Kina. I januar 2016 ble den tibetanske butikkeieren Tashi Wangchuk arrestert og siktet for «forsøk om å hisse opp til separatisme» fordi han hadde uttrykt et ønske om tibetansk som undervisningsfag på skolene i Tibet i et intervju med en journalist av The New York Times. Han er fortsatt i varetekt i påvente av en rettssak.

Mens kinesere flest nyter en større grad av frihet og i økende grad reiser utenlands, opplever tibetanere i og utenfor den autonome regionen regelmessig å bli nektet pass og reisedokumenter. Deres bevegelsesfrihet er sterkt hemmet.

Systematisk etnisk og religiøs diskriminering rammer også etniske uigurere i den autonome regionen Xinjiang Uigur. I september 2014 ble den uigurske økonomiprofessoren Ilham Tohti dømt til livstid i fengsel for «separatisme» fordi han hadde laget en internettside som la opp til dialog mellom uigurere og han-kinesere og informerte om uigurernes situasjon.

Brudd på religionsfrihet rammer også andre trossamfunn i Kina. September i fjor ble det lagt frem et forslag om å gi forskjellige kinesiske myndigheter økt adgang til å begrense religionsutøvelsen for å «stoppe infiltrering og ekstremisme». Kinesiske advokater som forsvarer kinesere som blir forfulgt på grunn av sin tro risikerer å miste sin tillatelse eller å havne selv i fengsel. Spesielt brutalt og omfattende er forfølgelsen av Falun Gong-utøvere: Besittelse av Falun Gong-litteratur kan være nok for å bli arrestert, torturert og dømt til lange fengselsstraffer.

I juli 2016 satte lokale myndigheter i gang med å rive en stor del av Larung Gar i provinsen Sichuan, muligens verdens største buddhistiske samfunn med over 10.000 innbyggere. Mange ser på dette som et forsøk på å svekke den tibetanske buddhismens innflytelse i Tibet.

Faglige rettigheter
Kina har i de siste årene fått flere lover og bestemmelser for å beskytte arbeidstakernes rettigheter. Implementeringen av disse bestemmelsene har imidlertid vært ytterst svakt. Uavhengige fagforeninger er fortsatt forbudt, og de lokale forgreningene av den statlige kinesiske fagforeningen er ofte under kontroll av bedriftsledelsen, slik at de har lite rom for å ivareta de ansattes rettigheter.

Den langsommere veksten i den kinesiske økonomien over de siste årene har ført til en sterk opptrapping av forfølgelse og trakassering av organisasjoner eller enkeltpersoner som engasjerer seg for arbeidstakernes rettigheter. Dette har vi spesielt observert i provinsen Guangdong som gjerne omtales som «verdens fabrikk» på grunn av de mange bedrifter i regionen som produserer varer som underleverandører for den globale industrien.

Det må stilles krav til kinesiske myndigheter
Menneskerettighetsbruddene i Kina er mange og alvorlige, og på en rekke områder går utviklingen fra vondt til verre. Det er helt avgjørende at kinesiske myndigheter får klar beskjed fra sine internasjonale partnere om at kravet om respekt for menneskerettighetene er grunnlag for internasjonal samhandling og ikke kan forhandles bort. Det er mange mennesker i Kina som våger å stå opp for sine og andres rettigheter uansett hvor risikabelt det er, for å bygge en bedre og tryggere fremtid, og for dem er vår støtte og solidaritet helt avgjørende.

Derfor oppfordrer vi statsministeren til å uttrykke en klar forventing overfor kinesiske myndigheter om at Kina respekterer menneskerettighetene i tråd med internasjonal rett. Vi ber statsministeren spesielt om å

  • uttrykke bekymring over forfølgelsen av menneskerettighetsforkjempere og advokater i Kina og kreve at kinesiske advokater må ha mulighet til å gi juridisk bistand uten trakassering, også i saker som myndighetene oppfatter som sensitive
  • understreke at ytringsfrihet er en menneskerett og en grunnleggende forutsetning for et velfungerende samfunn, og at ingen må straffes for å sette frem kritikk av myndighetene eller oppmuntre til eller delta i debatt om samfunnsrelevante temaer på en fredelig måte
  • uttrykke bekymring over den omfattende sensuren av internett i Kina
  • oppfordre kinesiske myndigheter til å gjøre detaljert informasjon om landets bruk av dødsstraff offentlig tilgjengelig, inkludert antall henrettelser og dødsdommer per år og høyesterettens jurisdiksjon i dødsstraffsaker
  • uttrykke bekymring over forfølgelsen av mennesker i Kina på grunn av sitt livssyn eller sin tro og spesielt de omfattende overgrepene Falun Gong-utøvere er utsatt for
  • minne kinesiske myndigheter om sin forpliktelse til å respektere menneskerettighetene til etniske tibetanere og uigurere, inkludert deres rett til ytrings-, religions- og forsamlingsfrihet og deres rett til å bruke og lære sitt eget språk og å utøve sin kultur
  • understreke at det forventes at kinesiske myndigheter gjør alt de kan for å realisere og beskytte faglige rettigheter som nedfelt i menneskerettighetene og ILO-konvensjonene og sørger for at arbeidstakere har adgang til reell beskyttelse av rettighetene sine og mulighet til å klage mot overtramp uten frykt for sanksjoner.

Med vennlig hilsen

Frode Elgesem, leder, Den norske advokatforeningens menneskerettighetsutvalg

John Peder Egenæs, generalsekretær, Amnesty International i Norge

Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær, Den norske Helsingforskomité

Hege Newth Nouri, generalsekretær, Norsk PEN

Tsomo Svenningsen, styreleder, Den norske Tibetkomité

Foto av Erna Solberg: Thomas Haugersveen/
Statsministerens kontor

2017 China: Independent Chinese PEN Center

In China writers, journalists, the Independent Chinese PEN Center and its members, as well as other critical voices have been persecuted, harassed, imprisoned, and sometimes forcibly disappeared. Norwegian PEN and the Writers in Prison Committee call on Chinese authorities to comply with the right of freedom of expression.

Oslo, January 5th 2017

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


Your Excellency,

The Norwegian PEN and its Writers in Prison Committee is hereby calling for the release of all writers, journalists and publishers imprisoned in violation of their right to freedom of expression in the People’s Republic of China. We are urging you to cease the harassment and persecution of members of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, and lift all restrictions on their freedom to exit and enter mainland China, particularly to attend PEN International conferences and to return home.

We are also calling on you to end the practice of enforced disappearance and the use of forced confessions, which contravene an individual’s right to fair trial.

Finally, we are calling on you to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by the People’s Republic of China in October 1998.


On behalf of the Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee,


Øivind Hånes



Copies: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Norway; The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2016 China: Gao Yu

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.

Yours sincerely,

Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

Ms Brit Bildøen                                                                       Ms Iva Gavanski Chair                                                                                             Advisor

Copy: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Norwegian PEN meets Dalai Lama

A delegation of members from Norwegian PEN and PEN International had a brief meeting with the Dalai Lama this morning during his visit to Oslo. The delegation, Norwegian PEN president William Nygaard, board member Peter Normann Waage and PEN International’s Vice President Eugene Schoulgin, welcomed the Dalai Lama to Norway and regretted that the Norwegian government had declined to meet with him.

«We told the Dalai Lama that the Norwegian people support him,» said Nygaard after the meeting, adding that he, on PENs behalf, was very grateful that the Dalai Lama took the time to meet representatives from the world´s biggest freedom of expression organization, before meeting with Norwegian politicians in the Parliament building. PEN referred to the defense of his case and of imprisoned Tibetans throughout more than thirty years, and said that Tibetan PEN is among the most significant PEN centers.  The Dalai Lama was glad to hear this. PEN also expressed gratitude towards the Dalai Lama for making Tibetan culture a part of the world´s cultural heritage.

The Dalai Lama was happy to be back in Norway and paid no attention to the lack of willingness the Norwegian government now has demonstrated to follow up on earlier statements. The Dalai Lama raised the Chinese people’s need for comprehensive freedom of expression. «Had it not been for the censorship in China, the Chinese people themselves could have made up their minds about what is right and what is wrong,» stressed the Dalai Lama.

At the end of the meeting, the Dalai Lama was invited back to Norway. If nothing else he could go fishing to learn more about the Norwegian culture. He laughed heartily and stressed that he happily would eat the fish, as long as he didn’t have to kill it.

9th May 2014

Do the Chinese control the Norwegian parliament ? Norwegian politicians place business interests ahead of human rights


Norwegian PEN is concerned that the Norwegian Parliament sets narrow business interests ahead of the interests of human rights and human dignity. We deeply regret that many of our leading politicians , who both previously met the Dalai Lama and supported Tibetan struggle for human rights now allows the pragmatic to overshadow the principal .

Norway has long been an important country in international peace and reconciliation work and rendered significant contributions to the promotion of human rights . To show respect to the Dalai Lama as a freedom fighter and for his peaceful efforts should be a question of honor,  it concerns our self- respect and decency as a nation.  It is by our own consistent behavior that respect for human dignity could also result in a long-term dialogue on human rights with China. It is therefore important that Norway, as a small nation, has the necessary courage and integrity to stand up to one of the largest and strongest economies in the world. Who would stand against China if not the country that awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and that,  better  than most other countires, can afford to bear the cost of being principled?

Norwegian PEN believes that Norway, as a country who dares to speak out, will have a positive significance in the long run, both for the peace prize, business relations,  international peace efforts and general relations with China – but first and foremost for freedom of expression and other human rights.

On this background, the Board of Norwegian PEN strongly urge the Norwegian government to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to Norway in May.


28 April 2014