PEN International’s kongress vedtar viktige resolusjoner

Resolutions from PEN International´s 78th world Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012.

Bahrain

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

On 4 September 2012, the High Court of Appeal in Bahrain confirmed the convictions of thirteen human rights defenders, bloggers and activists serving time in prison and seven others tried in absentia. They include human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and academic, blogger and human rights activist Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, who had been sentenced by a special security court on 22 June 2011 to life imprisonment. They are targeted for calling for political reform and for their reporting on human rights abuses in the country.

Despite the Bahraini’s government much publicised commitments to political reform, little meaningful action has been taken to implement reforms and ensure accountability. Violations are ongoing and peaceful opposition activists remain behind bars. Significant structural impediments to freedom of expression remain in place, and the authorities have denied or severely restricted access for international rights groups, including PEN International.

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World  Congress in Geongju, Korea, 9th  to 15th September 2012

Protests the decision by the High Court of Appeal in Bahrain to uphold the harsh sentences against Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and others solely for peacefully exercising their right to free expression;

Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain solely for the peaceful expression their opinions, including Dr Al-Singace, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab;

Demands a full independent investigation into allegations that all three men have been tortured and ill-treated in detention, and to end the culture of impunity by bringing the perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment to justice;

Urges the Bahraini authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and to renew its commitments to freedom of expression as articulated in the National Action Charter of Bahrain of 2001 by enacting or amending appropriate legislation to eliminate all restrictions upon the freedom of the press, including criminal penalties.

BELARUS

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

On 4 August 2011, the writer and human rights defender Ales Bialiastki was arrested in Minsk, charged with tax evasion, charges which stemmed from his reported use of personal bank accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for Vyasna’s human rights activities in Belarus.  His detention since August 2011 is as a direct result of his legitimate activities in defence of human rights in Belarus.  On 24 November 2011, Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to 4.5 years imprisonment with the confiscation of his property, including the property registered with other persons, on charges of tax evasion.  On January 24, 2012, the cassation appeal against the verdict of the Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk, of Ales Bialiatski, left the sentence in force: 4.5 years imprisonment in a higher security colony and confiscation of properties. The latter disregards the fact that all the taxes and penalties imposed on him had been fully paid by the time of the appeal hearing.

Ales Bialiatski is head of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” in Belarus, Vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and one of the founders of the Belarusian Human Rights House in exile.  Vyasna has campaigned for scores of opposition activists persecuted by the government of President Alexsander Lukashenko. It was stripped of its official registration in 2003, making it extremely difficult under Belarus’s economic laws to raise funds. The condemnation of Ales Bialiatski illustrates how seriously threatened freedom of association and freedom of expression are in Belarus.

Another member of Belarus PEN  Pavel Seviarynets, also an opposition activist and author of several books, was arrested in December 2010 for his involvement in protests was sentenced to three years in a “correctional institution”, a type of open prison where he will remain until the end of 2013.

These and other cases are emblematic of the type of pressure faced by writers and journalists who speak out.

PEN International calls upon Belarusian authorities to:

• Immediately release and drop all charges against human rights defender Ales Bialiatsky and Pavel Seviarynets; to fully rehabilitate him and to ensure unhampered activities of human rights and other civil society organizations
• Release all political prisoners and allow for free, democratic elections
• Stop censoring the internet and allow for a free, democratic exchange of ideas and opinions

 

Cambodia

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Geongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

Cambodia: On July 15, 2012, journalist, human rights activist, and director of the independent Beehive Radio Station Mam Sonado was arrested and is now standing trial on charges of insurrection. Mr. Mam Sonado is accused of inciting villagers in Kratie province in northeastern Cambodia to protest a government order to seize land in the village and transfer it to a private holding company. There are about 100 families in the village. A teenage girl was shot dead by authorities during that protest. Mr. Mom Sonado has never been to Kratie province and does not know any of the villagers, and was abroad in France when the protest took place. He has, however, been a vocal critic of forced evictions and «land grabs» in Cambodia, and has been jailed twice previously for speaking out against the increasingly common practice of appropriating property in Cambodia. PEN believes his current trial is the latest in a series of actions by the Cambodia government aimed at silencing Mr. Mam Sonado for exercising his universally-guaranteed right to freedom of expression.

Mr. Mam Sonado’s trial comes amid rising concerns over the climate for freedom of expression in Cambodia, where government critics are the target of intimidation and harassment and often accused of being members of opposition parties, and where at least 10 writers, journalists, and activists have been killed since the 1990s and many more have been forced into exile. In addition, several writers have been prosecuted under criminal defamation laws aimed at silencing government critics, and a climate of impunity prevails. In this environment, Mr. Mam Sonado has been a brave defender of the right of all Cambodians to freedom of expression. Beehive Radio is one of just two independent media centers that have programs that allow individuals from all walks of life the raise their voices and express their concerns about their lives and their country. Prosecuting Mr. Mam Sonado is likely to have a chilling on independent media in Cambodia and further shrink the space where Cambodia’s citizens can participate in discussions and debates about policies and issues that affect their lives.

Mr. Mam Sonado, who is 70 years old, has reportedly contracted a serious respiratory infection in prison, and there are serious concerns about his health.

PEN International therefore calls on the government of Cambodia to:

– Drop the current charges against Mr. Mam Sonado and facilitate his immediate and unconditional release
– End the intimidation of critical voices in Cambodia and take affirmative steps to protect the right of writers, journalists, and all Cambodian citizens to full freedom of expression.

 

CHINA

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

Welcomes the release of HUANG Jinqiu, TANG Cailong, ZUO Xiaohua,WANG Xiaoming  and GAO Chunlian, either on bail or due to sentence reduction, since the last Congress of PEN International in September 2011.

Also welcomes the progress in amending the Criminal Procedure Law by the National People’s Congress in March 2012, with the insertions of the constitutional principle of “respect and protect human rights” and a sentence of “authorities shall protect the defense right and other procedural rights legally enjoyed by criminal suspects, defendants, and other litigation participants” into its General Provision, and with the corresponding revisions of a large number of the terms and conditions for the rights protection.

Considers the continuous suppression of the right to freedom of expression throughout China, from its capital city of Beijing to the inland provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou and Huibei, to the coastal province of Zhejiang, to the Autonomous Regions of Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia.

Alarmed by the relentless harassment of and attacks against Chinese intellectuals, particularly the arbitrary arrests of online bloggers and journalists, over 40 of whom are currently imprisoned, including the sentencing of CHEN Wei (9 years), CHEN Xi (10 years), LI Tie (10 years) and ZHU Yufu (7 years), making China one of the largest jailers of writers and journalists in the world.

Worried about the growing censorship of the Internet throughout the country, including the popular social network websites Twitter and Facebook.

Disturbed by the continuous use of administrative detention, including the infamous “Re-education Through Labour” (RTL) system, to jail dissident writers for up to 3 years without the due process guaranteed under its own laws.

Further disturbed by the increasing misuse of China’s Criminal Law to arbitrarily charge dissident writers, outspoken journalists and independent publishers with criminal offences to suppress freedom of expression and the press, in particular “endangering national security”, “(inciting) subversion of state power”, “(inciting) split of country” , “illegally holding/leaking state secrets”, and “illegal business practices” or alleged “economic crimes”;

Even further disturbed by the recent amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law which allow police to hold a suspect without informing a relative of either charge or whereabouts as long as they wish, possibly over a year, until there is an open trial.

Shocked by the increasing persecution of Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) members, including the ongoing imprisonment of LIU Xiaobo (11 years), SHI Tao (10 years), YANG Tongyan (12 years), and ZHU Yufu (7 years); the interrogation, harassment, threats, attacks, brief detentions, meeting and travel restrictions, passport rejections, and the work and life interruptions of more than 50 members.

PEN International therefore urges the government of the People’s Republic of China to:

• Stop the harassment and persecution of ICPC members, and lift all restrictions on their freedom to exit and enter mainland China, particularly to attend PEN International conferences and to return home;
• Cease its efforts to censor cyberspace and to immediately release all Internet writers jailed for peacefully expressing their opinions;
• Release all those in the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang Uyghur and Inner Mongolia who have been detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression,
• Release all imprisoned writers and journalists in China
• Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by the People’s Republic of China in October 1998;
• Engage in a complete and meaningful reform of the Chinese legal system in accordance with international standards and its own Constitution to guarantee fair trials, the full rights of defence and appeal, the legal practices of attorneys, and a prison system that ensures the health and safety of inmates; particularly to cease the practice of using the charge of “subversion” against writers and of “holding/leaking state secrets” against journalists; and to abandon the infamous RTL system.

CUBA

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

Despite the recent release from prison of political prisoners, the government of Cuba continues to arrest, harass and physically attack writers, journalists, bloggers and independent librarians, as well as opponents peacefully struggling for human rights, such as the Ladies in White. This new wave of repression includes the kidnapping of activists, keeping them incommunicado in political police buildings, and only setting them free after alleged torture and under threat of a judicial writ indicating that they will be imprisoned if they continue those activities.

Furthermore, the government of Cuba keeps in force Law 88 from 1999, setting prison terms of more than 20 years for dissidents who claim peacefully their right to freedom of expression. Also, it keeps in force the Law of Security of Information, limiting internet information access to independent journalists.

The Cuban government, contravening Article 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights denies travel permits to writers and journalists to enable them to receive international awards, as is the case of blogger Yoani Sánchez, who obtained the María Moors Cabot Award in 2009.

These attacks on free expression in Cuba have been condemned by several non-governmental rights and press organisations, including the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which reported 3,645 short-term detentions in the first half of 2012, the Inter-American Society for the Press, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT).
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PEN International therefore urges the government of Cuba to:

• Abstain from the arrest, physical attack and harassment of writers, journalists, bloggers and independent librarians for their practice of their right to freedom of expression;
• Allow the use of means of social communications such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other possible future technological means;
• Free the remaining political prisoners still serving terms in Cuba;
• Abolish Law 88 of 1999 and the Law of Security;
• Comply with Articles 12 and 19 of the International Convention on Political and Civil Rights, signed by Cuba on February 2008.

 

ERITREA

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Seoul, South Korea, 9 September to 15 September 2012

ERITREA: September 23, 2012 the journalist, playwright and writer Dawit Isaak has been in Eritrean prison for eleven years. Despite many efforts to raise his case at the international level, Dawit remains a long term prisoner of conscience.

Eleven years ago, Mr. Isaak was detained with a large number of other journalists, writers and opposition politicians after his newspaper published a letter which criticized President Isaias Afewerki. Despite serious concerns for their health and well-being, Isaak and his colleagues have reportedly been held without charge or trial in extremely harsh conditions ever since. At least four of the journalists arrested with Isaak are believed to have died during their detention and, according to news reports in 2012, only 15 out of the original 35 political prisoners held at Eira Eiro prison camp, where Isaak is allegedly detained, remain alive. Since 2005 there has been no certain confirmation of Mr. Isaak being alive, and 2011 it was even reported that Mr. Isaak had died. This rumour has neither been denied or confirmed by the authorities, and PEN International refuses to believe it’s true. Three more were confirmed dead last week.

Dawit Isaak was born in Eritrea in 1964. He immigrated to Sweden as a refugee from Eritrea’s War of Independence in 1987 and became a Swedish citizen five years later. When Eritrea gained independence in 1993, Isaak returned to his native country and became a part-owner of Setit, the country’s first independent newspaper.

PEN International is deeply concerned by the reported deaths of Dawit Isaak’s colleagues, and by a longstanding lack of medical treatment at the prisons where he has been held.

PEN International calls on the government of Eritrea:

• To honour its obligations under international law by granting the International Committee of the Red Cross, or some other reputable and independent organization, access to Mr. Isaak and those detained with him;
• To confirm and prove that Mr. Isaak is still alive;
• To provide independent assessments of their health and any medical treatment they require;
• To grant the immediate and unconditional release of Dawit Isaak and the at least 15 other Eritreans who have also been imprisoned for their writings since 2001.

Ethiopia

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September, 2012

ETHIOPIA: On June 27, 2012, the Ethiopian high court convicted Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega on charges of “conspiracy to commit terrorist acts” for the peaceful and lawful practice of his profession. On July 13, 2012, Eskinder was sentenced to 18 years in prisonLike many of his colleagues in the independent media in Ethiopia, Eskinder Nega has been the target of constant harassment since he began his career in 1993. In 2005 he and his journalist wife Serkalem Fasil were imprisoned for 17 months on treason charges for their critical reporting on the government’s violent crackdown of protests following disputed elections. When he was released he was banned from journalism. He refused to be silenced, publishing reports and essays on online media—most notably, reports critical of the Ethiopian government’s human rights record and its use of an overly-broad anti-terrorism law to prosecute journalists.  Now Eskinder stands as the latest victim of this troubling practice.

At least 5 journalists have been detained and 11 tried and convicted under the vaguely-worded Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009, which includes provisions the government has increasingly used to jail peaceful opponents and critics. Independent newspapers are consistently shut down, and social media is monitored and often banned. As official hostility to a free press and peaceful dissent has grown in Ethiopia, at least 150 of Eskinder Nega’s colleagues in the independent media have been forced into exile.

PEN International therefore calls on the Ethiopian authorities to:

• Reverse Eskinder Nega’s conviction and immediately release all journalists who have been convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression
• Amend the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 to ensure that its provision protect the right of Ethiopia’s citizens to exercise their right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and full political participation
• End the intimidation and harassment of the independent media that has forced scores of Ethiopian journalists into exile.

 

Iran

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

Preamble: For decades there has been a widespread crackdown on peaceful political dissent across many aspects of civil society in Iran. Those targeted include writers and journalists, academics, women’s rights activists and human rights defenders. Separatist struggle places writers and journalists particularly at risk in Iran’s ethnic regions, and PEN International is alarmed at the number of Kurdish, Azeri and Arab journalists targeted for their critical reporting, peaceful activism and writings in support of their cultural and political rights. At least thirty writers are currently detained in Iran, many serving lengthy sentences, including Muhemed Sadigh Kaboudvand, Adnan Hassanpour, Abdolvahed “Hiva” Botimar, Nasrin Soutadeh and Shiva Ahari. Detainees are commonly held in poor conditions, without access to family, medical care and legal representation, and there are widespread reports of the use of torture. Trials commonly fall short of international standards of fairness.

The General Assembly of PEN International is:

Alarmed by the extensive violations of human rights in Iran, and the continued persecution facing writers and journalists who are particularly targeted by the Iranian regime for practicing their rights to free expression.

Concerned about the continuous policy of harassment of the Kurdish and Baluchi identity, language and culture depriving these groups from publishing, studying or developing their language.
PEN International calls upon the Iranian regime to:

• stop ill treatment and torture in Iranian prisons;
• stop the particular targeting of national groups such as the Kurds, Azeris, Arabs, Baluchi and Turkmen, and allowing them full practice of their cultural, linguistic and political rights;
• calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Muhemed Sadigh Kaboudvand, Adnan Hassanpour, Abdolvahed “Hiva” Botimar, Nasrin Soutadeh, Shiva Ahari, and all writers and journalists who have been arrested in Iran in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

 

MEXICO

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

MEXICO: Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a writer. Since 2006, at least 44 print journalists, writers and bloggers have been murdered in connection with their work; at least 9 others have disappeared. Of these attacks, very few have been thoroughly investigated. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, fewer than 10% of attacks against journalists and writers result in convictions. There is a considerable amount of evidence suggesting that state actors are often involved in attacks on journalists. In March 2012 the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression publicly recognized that many of the threats to journalists’ right to free expression in Mexico came from the state authorities themselves.  PEN is appalled by the continuing litany of killings and threats and calls on the Mexican authorities to do all in their power to bring this to an end.

In January 2012, an international delegation of PEN leaders from the Americas, Europe and Asia went to Mexico in order to raise international awareness of the violence suffered there by writers and journalists. They underlined that Mexico’s commitment to protecting freedom of expression will only be measured by a reduction in attacks on journalists and writers, and on the prosecution and conviction of those who commit these crimes.

On 6 June 2012, Mexico finally approved an amendment to article 73 of the Mexican constitution that makes attacks on journalists a federal offence. This change in law will provide investigators with greater resources with which to pursue their work, and protect cases from the influence of corruption at local state level.

On 22 June 2012, President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, signed into law a further amendment to article 73 that will oblige both federal and state authorities to protect the rights of journalists and human rights defenders.

PEN International calls on the Mexican authorities to:

• Swiftly approve the secondary legislation required for the effective implementation of the recent constitutional amendments, thereby ensuring that the new laws classifying attacks on journalists as federal crimes and affording journalists better protection, are put into practice on the ground.
• Demonstrate their commitment to freedom of expression by pursuing and prosecuting those responsible for attacks on journalists and writers.
• Acknowledge the role of state actors in violence against journalists and take concrete measures to address it;
• Tackle the corruption that is endemic at state level, and thereby remove a key cause of impunity in Mexico.

Further to the above, the Assembly of Delegates of PEN International calls on the United States of America, Canada and the European Union to:

• Place these attacks on Mexican writers and journalists on the foreign policy agenda by insisting that the above recommendations be implemented, and by conditioning future counternarcotics aid on the Mexican authorities taking genuine and effective action to redress serious human rights violations against journalists.
• Address their own countries’ role in drug consumption and in international

In session Resolution on Russia

Preamble
Recent months have seen a steep decline in the state of freedom of expression and the ability of society to act freely in Russia. The two year sentences served against Maria Alyokhiona, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Ekaterina Samusevich, members of the band, Pussy Riot, supposedly on “hooliganism” charges, are clearly a means through which to intimidate not only critics of President Putin, but also of the Orthodox church. The weight of the sentences for what in other countries, and indeed in earlier similar cases of civil disobedience tried by Russian courts, are seen as minor offences, makes this abundantly clear.

Earlier this year, the city of St Petersburg district a law banning “homosexual propaganda”, a law that could be used to penalise writings, plays, performances and other creative works. This brings the number of cities having such laws to four, and fears that they will spread to other cities in Russia. Commentators have pointed out that these laws have been passed on the initiative of the Orthodox Church, another indication of its growing influence  on the state.

Last month criminal libel was re-introduced only a year after it had been decriminalized only a year ago, part of a number of laws forced at great speed through parliament in July with acute negative effect on freedom of expression and association, leading to alarm at the growing authoritarianism.

Among the laws passed in July is the law “Regulating Activities of Non-commercial Organizations, which Carry Out Functions of Foreign Agents” that will demand that any organisation that is funded, or considering getting funding from abroad, to register with the Ministry of Justice as “carrying out functions of a foreign agent”. This only applies if the organisation is involved in political advocacy. This places enormous restraint on organisations in Russia, among them Russian PEN, under legislation using language resonant of the Cold War.

Alongside this, there has been no justice in most of the 53 killings of writers and journalists since 1992 (figs: Committee to Protect Journalists). Less than 10% of these killings have seen justice. Among them are journalist Anna Politkovskaya murdered in 2006, and her friend, human rights defender and reporter, Natalia Estemirova, killed in 2009. This not only grants a mantle of impunity for those who kill to silence, but does not bode well in this current climate where writers, journalists and artists who speak out are being identified by the state as traitors to the state and church, marking them as targets for gunmen.

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Geongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September, 2012

PEN International views with deep foreboding the growing authoritarianism in Russia. It calls on the Russian authorities to:
• Put an end to the arrest and sentencing of writers, journalists and artists who use words, performance and imagery to express their views on the society and politics in which they live;
• Review state and federal legislation that criminalises freedom of expression including through literature, the media and creative arts;
• To make it undeniably clear that the Russian government will not tolerate, let alone endorse, any threats of violence or actual attacks against its critics
• Illustrate its commitment to protect all its citizens against violence by speeding up the investigations into killings in recent years, and facilitating trial processes against those who kill writers, including those who orchestrate such murders, thus showing that the Russian state is able to provide justice and is not in thrall to criminals who are behind these atrocities;
Take note of the deep levels of concern of the impact that the  law on “foreign agents” will have on the capacity for Russia to have a well functioning, independent, civil society that is truly able to serve the Russian people, and to order a review of the legislation.

Syria

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012..

Preamble

Repression of human rights, displacement of minorities and ethnic discrimination is not news in Syria, where writers, human rights defenders and political dissidents have been harassed and persecuted for years – throughout its decades of dictatorship freedom of speech has been severely restricted for writers and media people in Syria across ethnic, religious and linguistic barriers.

During the popular calls for democratic change 2011-2012, however, the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad has increased its repression, trying to stop non-violent demonstrations with barbarous force.

Contrary to its international obligations and commitments to UN human rights conventions, the Syrian dictatorship has made a horrendous effort to prevent writers and journalists, local as well international, from covering the crisis. Media people have been arrested without charge, many tortured, several killed.

Although promising the former special representative of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan, that political prisoners would be released and that media would have free access to all parts of Syria, the Assad dictatorship continuously has prevented media people from entering the country and/or cities or provinces of crisis.

PEN International is well aware that non-governmental armed groups have become part of the Syrian crisis. It is however the responsibility of the Syrian government to ensure the safety of its people as well as human rights, including not the least freedom of speech – rather than answering political dissent with violent repression and meeting calls for freedom of speech with heavy-handed censorship.

PEN centres representing more than 20.000 writers, bloggers, journalists, editors and publishers from all over the world, convening at the 78th PEN International congress in Gyeongju, Korea, call on the government of Syria and all parties of the Syrian conflict to respect the principle of freedom of speech as well as other principles of human rights.

The government of Syria must immediately release and drop all charges against imprisoned writers and human rights defenders and ensure unhampered freedom of speech and unlimited freedom to human rights and other civil society organizations;

The government must ensure and protect free access to all parts of Syria to all representatives of media;

And the Syrian government must stop censoring the internet and allow for a free, democratic exchange of ideas and opinions.

We also call on all parties to the conflict, including the Syrian National Council, to ensure the cultural, political and linguistic rights of all the ethnic groups in Syria.

 

The Turkey Manifesto

PEN International calls for an overhaul of laws stifling Turkey’s writers and journalists

Turkey has an extraordinarily high number of writers and journalists in prison with many more on release pending trial. Most are held because of their alleged affiliation to or support of organisations that advocate violence. However, PEN is worried that this situation has emerged as a result of the amenability of Turkish courts to broad interpretations of anti-terror laws, empowering overzealous state prosecutors to pursue cases where no material links to terrorism exist.

As of  September 2012, scores of journalists were reported imprisoned in Turkey.  Such figures are difficult to confirm; the complexity and obfuscation surrounding these cases makes them difficult to monitor, while releases being made under the Third Judicial Reform Package passed in July are still ongoing.

The Turkish legal system imposes extremely long periods of pre-trial detention on suspects. We have on our records people who have still not been convicted after four years in prison. These conditions create an atmosphere of intimidation for writers and journalists, who risk lengthy spells in prison when they publish controversial but legitimate comment even if they’re never convicted.

Even in cases without pre-trial detention writers, journalists and publishers in Turkey face lengthy trials that may last for years. More often than not, these less serious cases end with acquittals or minor fines, indicating that the reasons for prosecution are not founded under Turkish law. It is hard not to conclude that those who bring these cases have little regard for the outcome, and in fact do so to harass and intimidate the authors and send warnings to others. The draining, debilitating effect on the defendants in these cases can be immense.

In addition to the Anti-Terror Law, freedom of expression is suppressed under numerous other laws including  obscenity, praising offences or offenders, inciting the population to (usually religious) hatred and insulting Turkishness.  Legitimate political comment regarding public officials is also challenged through defamation cases.

THE SITUATION IS UNTENABLE AND REQUIRES IMMEDIATE RESPONSE. THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT MUST:

1. Order the review of all cases of imprisoned writers, journalists and publishers held and on trial under the Anti-Terror Law to ensure that none are being penalized for the legitimate practice of their rights  to peaceful freedom of expression and association.

2. Make much needed changes to the country’s draconian Anti-Terror Law, which allows for the imprisonment and pre-trial detention of writers and journalists with no material links to terrorism or the plotting of violent acts.

3. Revise other articles of the Turkish Penal Code that have been used to stifle legitimate political comment or to suppress creative  works.

4. Improve on the positive reforms made as part of the Third Judicial Reform Package by going further to eliminate unnecessary pre-trial detention and onerously lengthy trial times, and introduce a stringent means of vetting cases before trial so that weak indictments can’t be used to imprison, harass or intimidate writers and journalists.

 

Anders Heger: We gave the Nobel price to Liu Xiaobo, not because we are against the Chinese, but because we are for the Chinese

Anders Heger: The critics of this years Nobel Peace Prize have missed an essential point.  There is something strangely arrogant in the notion that what´s real and accepted in other societies, is furthest from ourselves.  Liu Xiaobo represents Chinese culture in the same way as the publishers of Apollinaires represent Turkish culture: In the way that dissidents, always and forever, have been more important for the development of a society than anyone in power.  Authorities manifest what was and what has been.  Dissidents alert us about what is coming.»

2011: China: Ai Weiwei

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

Director of the Beijing Public Security Bureau
MA Zhenchuan Juzhang
Beijingshi Gong’anju
9 Dongdajie, Qianmen
Dongchengqu
Beijingshi 100740
People’s Republic of China .
Fax: +86 1065242927

Minister of Justice
WU Aiying Buzhang
Sifabu
10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Chaoyangqu
Beijingshi 100020
People’s Republic of China .

Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China .
MENG Jianzhu
Gong’anbu
14 Dongchang’anjie
Dongchengqu
Beijingshi 100741
People’s Republic of China .

19 April 2011

I, Soudabeh Alishahi, member of the writers in prison committee of the Norwegian PEN, hereby express my concern about the health and condition of Mr Ai Weiwei, artist and prominent government critic following his arrest at Beijing airport on 3 April 2011.
He has been investigated for suspected involvement in economic crimes and previous to that he has been harassed and beaten several times.

I hereby remind you of your obligations under Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Chinese government is a signatory.

I seek urgent guarantees of the safety of Ai Weiwei and that he is given full access to his family, legal representation immediately
and necessary medical care.

I call for his immediate and unconditional release and that of all those currently detained in China for the peaceful expression of their views.

Soudabeh Alishahi
Member of norwegian PEN,wipc

Copy: To Norwegian Foreign Ministry and to Chinese Embassy in Norway and Norwegian Embassy in China

2010: China: Crackdown on dissidents

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

16. October 2010

 

Your Excellency,

Crackdown on supporters of prominent dissident writer and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee is alarmed about an apparent crackdown on Chinese writers and intellectuals following the award of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo, former President and Board member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC). According to reports, over thirty dissidents have been arrested, warned or placed under house arrest and increased surveillance since the award was announced on 8 October 2010, including at least a dozen ICPC members. There is particular concern for the well-being of the laureate’s wife Liu Xia, who has been held incommunicado at her residence since visiting her husband in Jinzhou prison on 10 October. Such harassment of dissidents is common in China, although there are fears that this most recent crackdown could signify a diminishing tolerance of dissent by the authorities.

 

Yours sincerely

Annaguli Yildam,
Member of Norwegian PEN, WiPC

Voice of Tibet says China ‘jamming’ quake condolences

The Voice of Tibet (VOT) radio service slammed the Chinese authorities Thursday for jamming condolence messages from exiled Tibetans over the deadly earthquake in northwest China.

The Oslo-based VOT said it had been including messages of support, solidarity and grief since Monday with its shortwave transmissions — which are regularly jammed — in both Tibetan and Mandarin.

After all broadcasts were blocked for two days, VOT decided to isolate the condolences from its regular Tibetan news and current affairs and send them in a separate daily transmission.

«We informed the Chinese authorities of this and asked them to allow the transmissions, but again on Wednesday these special broadcasts were jammed,» said VOT’s editor-in-chief Karmna Yeshi, based in Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India.

«All we wanted was to give a platform for Tibetans and other sympathisers to convey their messages to the victims of the earthquake, rescue workers and aid agencies,» Yeshi said.  «Unfortunately, our appeal to allow this on humanitarian grounds was ignored by the Chinese,» he added.

Last week’s 6.9-magnitude quake, which killed nearly 2,200 people, hit a remote region of the Tibetan plateau in northwestern China.  The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, had appealed to the government in Beijing to let him into China for the first time in 51 years to visit the quake zone in the region of Qinghai, where he was born. So far, Beijing has declined to respond directly to the request.  The condolences transmitted by VOT included messages from the Dalai Lama, other senior lamas, Tibet support groups and individual Tibetan exiles.  VOT’s director in Oslo, Oystein Alme, said the Chinese jamming was a «grave violation» of basic human rights.

«There are on and off buttons also on Chinese radios. Why are the Chinese authorities so afraid they can not even allow the Tibetans to hear condolence messages from the outside world?» Alme said in a statement.
VOT has been airing daily programmes in both Tibetan and Chinese on short wave to Tibet and China as well as India, Bhutan and Nepal since 1996.

Norwegian scholar Harald Bøckman refused visa to China

NORWEGIAN PEN PRESS RELEASE
Norwegian scholar Harald Bøckman refused visa to China

Norwegian PEN is both shocked and provoked to learn that the Embassy of the People´s Republic of China has refused to issue a visa to renowned China-scholar and translator Harald Bøckman, consequently denying him entry to China during the Beijing Olympics.  «We find this decision unacceptable, in particular since Mr. Bøckman did not plan to spend any time attending the games, but merely follow up on his work as a translator and academic», says Norwegian PEN secretary general, Carl Morten Iversen.

As a scholar, translator and researcher Mr. Bøckman has contributed substantially to Norwegian people´s – and in particular his student´s – knowledge of Chinese culture and literature.  His planned and now cancelled trip to China was supposed to include meetings with Chinese scholars to discuss the translation into Chinese of Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge, participation at a seminar during the World Conference for Translators in Shanghai and guiding a party of 20 Norwegian translators on a trip to Guilin, Chengdu and Xi´an.  Mr. Bøckman planned to spend the last two days of his journey – August 17. – 19. in Beijing.

Mr. Bøckman has spent his whole academic career imparting his knowledge about Chinese culture and literature, both historic and contemporary.  He has visited China on several occasions, four times during the past year.  His latest visit was in May 2008.

«Considering his background and the program for his planned journey, Norwegian PEN find the decision of the Embassy of the People´s Republic of China totally unacceptable.  The mere notion that Mr. Bøckman represents a security risk during the Beijing Olympics is meaningless and warrants an unreserved apology from Chinese authorities», says Iversen.

Norwegian PEN urges the Chinese ambassador to Norway, Madame Gao Jian, to revoke this decision and immediately grant Mr. Bøckman a visa to China for the remainder of his planned trip.

Oslo, 22. July 2008

Failing to Deliver: An Olympic-Year Report Card on Free Expression in China

In order to win the privilege of hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, the People’s Republic of China pledged to improve its human rights record. This pledge included specific commitments to expand press freedom and protect such fundamental rights as the right to freedom of expression as it is guaranteed under international law and China’s own constitution.

On December 10, 2007, PEN American Center, PEN Canada and the Independent Chinese PEN Center launched “We Are Ready for Freedom of Expression,” a campaign aimed at holding China’s leadership to these commitments. PEN’s campaign specifically called on the Chinese government to:

·    release all writers and journalists currently imprisoned and stop detaining, harassing, and censoring writers and journalists in China;

·    end Internet censorship and reform laws used to imprison writers and journalists and suppress freedom of expression; and

·    abide by its pledge that “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games.”

Seven months later, we are unable to report significant improvements in any of these areas.

What we have witnessed instead has been a grinding and relentless campaign to jail or silence prominent dissident voices, including many of our colleagues from the Independent Chinese PEN Center, and new and brazen efforts to restrict or control domestic and international press. This report, issued one month before the Olympics open in Beijing, summarizes this discouraging lack of progress. It also offers glimpses of the vast, intricate nature of the suppression of human rights in China—visits to families of targeted dissidents, interference with personal cell phones and computers, waylaying individuals on their way to meetings and banquets; niggling, widespread surveillance and dogged harassment often followed by detention, arrest, and in some cases, very long prison sentences.

In bidding for the Olympic Games and in offering the requisite assurances of its intentions to protect and expand basic human rights, China invited just this kind of scrutiny. In turn the nations of the world, as they send their representatives to the Beijing Olympics, should not shy away from evaluating China on the terms under which it secured the Games. With time running out, we are asking the international community to join us in holding the Chinese government accountable for its assurances that it would safeguard and expand the rights of its people.

Jailing and Silencing Writers

When we launched the “We Are Ready” campaign, PEN was following the cases of 40 writers and journalists imprisoned in China. Though three of these have since been released, nine more have been detained:

1.    Wang Dejia: Internet writer and dissident, detained December 13, 2007 and released on January 12, 2008 on condition that he not write anything “attacking the leadership of the Party and State,” “inciting subversion of state power,” or any “political commentary.”
2.    Hu Jia: Freelance reporter and blogger, civil rights, environmental and AIDS activist, arrested December 27, 2007 and convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” on April 3, 2008. Hu is now serving a 3 ½-year sentence.
3.    Jamyang Kyi: Prominent Tibetan writer, reporter, activist and singer detained April 1, 2008.
4.    Zhou Yuanzhi: Freelance writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, detained on May 3, 2008 and released on May 15, 2008. Zhou is forbidden from traveling beyond his home city without police authorization, prohibited from communicating with strangers, and banned from publishing.
5.    Chen Daojun: Freelance writer and journalist, detained May 9, 2008 and charged with “inciting splittism.”
6.    Guo Quan: Writer and former professor of literature at Nanjing Normal University, detained May 17, 2008 and released May 28, 2008.
7.    Feng Zhenghu: Rights defender, online writer and freelance journalist, detained on June 5, 2008 on suspicion of “intentionally disturbing public order and released on June 15, 2008.
8.    Zeng Hongling: Writer and retired worker, detained June 9, 2008 after publishing articles on her experiences from the May 12, 2008 earthquake.
9.    Huang Qi: Cyber-dissident, writer, director and co-founder of the Tianwang Human Rights Center, detained on June 10, 2008.

Today, seven months later, we are following the cases of 44 writers and journalists who are in Chinese prisons in violation of their right to freedom of expression. A complete list of all the writers PEN has been tracking since December 10, 2007, is attached to this report.

In addition to this disturbing increase in the number of imprisoned writers and journalists, the Chinese government has intensified its ongoing harassment of dissident voices and writers. We are particularly distressed that many of our colleagues at the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) have been targeted in this crackdown. This past December, authorities halted ICPC’s annual awards dinner by paying visits to members and posting guards outside the doors of many to prevent them from traveling to Beijing. The evening’s two scheduled honorees, writers Liao Yiwu and Li Jianhong, were briefly held under house arrest. On June 4, the distinguished writer, dissident, and former ICPC president and current board member Dr. Liu Xiaobo was manhandled by police from the National Security Unit of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, and is now reportedly under surveillance at his home in Beijing.

There is also increasing evidence of an organized effort to restrict movement of dissidents and writers to keep them from meeting freely with international observers before and during the Olympics. On June 29, Teng Biao and Li Baiguang, two human rights lawyers and ICPC members living in Beijing, were detained in order to prevent them from meeting with U.S. Congressmen Christopher H. Smith and Frank R. Wolf, who had invited them to dinner to discuss human rights issues. Li Baiguang was held for three days in Huairou, a Beijing suburb, and Teng Biao, whose passport had been confiscated by authorities earlier in the year, was released but placed under house arrest.

Setting Legal Traps
The majority of writers and journalists currently imprisoned in China have been snared by China’s far-reaching, zealous efforts to restrict freedom of expression on the Internet. Of the 44 writers currently imprisoned in China, 30 are being held for writings they posted on the Internet or disseminated electronically, including Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning, who were both convicted after U.S. Internet provider Yahoo! provided the Chinese government with their user information. All nine of the writers detained since December 10 (Wang Dejia, Hu Jia, Jamyang Kyi, Zhou Yuanzhi, Chen Daojun, Guo Quan, Feng Zhenghu, Zeng Hongling, and Huang Qi) have been targeted for their online writings.

Three laws are routinely misused to try and sentence writers, journalists, and cyberdissidents in China: 1) subversion; 2) revealing state secrets; and 3) splittism or separatism. Hu Jia, a freelance reporter and blogger, is serving a 3 ½-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” for six articles he published and two press interviews. Huang Qi, who was detained on June 10, is being held on suspicion of “illegally holding state secrets” for writings published on his organization’s web site. The splittism charge, used most often against Tibetans and Uighurs, has recently crossed ethnic lines to include Han Chinese who publicly defend Tibetan and Uighur rights. Chen Daojun, a freelance writer and journalist detained May 9, 2008, has been formally charged with “inciting splittism” for an article he published declaring respect for the Tibetan people, defending their basic rights, and condemning the government’s violent crackdown on protesters.

China’s vast Internet censorship is a violation of the right of its citizens under international law to “seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Its vaguely-defined subversion, state secrets, and incitement laws have long been used to prosecute writers and journalists simply for practicing their professions. Rather than taking concrete steps to ease Internet restrictions and reform the laws routinely misused to jail writers and dissidents, China has continued to brandish and wield these weapons against individual writers in the weeks leading up to the Olympic Games. It has also expanded efforts to deny its citizens access to information on sensitive subjects on the Internet, shutting down many sites in the past seven months, including a site for the Tiananmen Mothers—an organization of family members of those killed or imprisoned during the 1989 crackdown—and Uighur Online, a site aimed at promoting understanding between Han Chinese and ethnic Uighurs.

Restricting the media
When bidding for the 2008 Olympics, the Chinese government made a specific promise to open up the country to free media reporting, stating “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games.” The unrest in Tibet and the May 12th earthquake, however, have revealed just the opposite: a government intent on controlling media access to important stories and on restricting the access its own people have to domestic and international media coverage.

During the crackdown on protests in Tibetan areas that began in March, government-instigated interruptions in telephone and Internet service in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and other Tibetan areas significantly hindered the flow of first-hand reports and other information as violence spread and the number of deaths rose. A recent Human Rights Watch report confirms that authorities are now confiscating mobile phones, cameras, fax machines and computers, monitoring calls, censoring and blocking emails and Internet content, and harassing Tibetans to prevent them from relaying information inside and outside of Tibet.

Since March, only a few journalists have been allowed into Tibetan areas on three government-orchestrated visits, always chaperoned and closely monitored by Chinese officials. Foreign journalists who attempted on their own to enter the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighboring Tibetan areas in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan and Gansu Provinces have been detained and turned away. Meanwhile, satellite broadcasts focusing on events in Tibet have been jammed in Beijing and other Chinese cities, and foreign news sites such as the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) have been shut down entirely or selectively, leaving China’s citizens without access to the full story about monumental political and human rights issues in their own country.

We are now beginning to see similar controls exerted on reporting from areas affected by the May 12 earthquake. At first the government, of necessity, allowed an unusual level of live coverage of rescue efforts. But now that attention is beginning to turn to questions that are potentially embarrassing for Chinese officials, there is a concerted effort to rein in—and even black out—press coverage. In just one example, on June 12, Agence France-Presse reported that at least six foreign media representatives were manhandled and detained when they tried to report from collapsed schools in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province. They were reportedly told by a police officer that “You cannot report anywhere in Dujiangyan. You must leave.” The six were then ordered out of the city, despite the fact that they held passes explicitly stating that reporting was allowed in the area.

The world knows of many of these heavy-handed efforts to restrict press freedom because they have been directed at the international media. Meanwhile, China’s domestic media remains under the thumb of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese government and must follow its directives. Chinese reporters are not even included in the pre-Olympic rules that are supposedly meant to allow foreign journalists to travel and report freely. Those who wander beyond the official boundaries have been punished. On May 5, for instance, Chang Ping was dismissed from his post as deputy editor of the daily Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis Daily) after he published several editorials about Tibet that did not toe the party line.

Conclusion and Recommendations
PEN American Center, PEN Canada, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center are seriously concerned that rather than improving, the climate for freedom of expression has actually measurably deteriorated over the past year, in full view of the international community. There are more writers and journalists in prison in China today than there were seven months ago, and dissident writers and journalists who are not in prison face serious restrictions on their movements and on their ability to speak and publish freely. Internet censorship and other laws such as subversion and inciting separatism or splittism remain in force and continue to be used specifically to deny the universally-guaranteed right to freedom of expression. China’s promises to allow media to report freely throughout China have been undermined by its attempts to manage international coverage from Tibet and earthquake-affected areas and by its refusal to extend any new protections or freedoms whatsoever to Chinese journalists.

If the Olympics come and go and there are no improvements in these areas, China will only have succeeded in portraying itself in the most unflattering light possible, thus reinforcing doubts about its commitments to fundamental human rights.

With one month remaining before the Olympic Games open in Beijing, however, it is not too late for China to make good on the commitments it offered its own citizens and the international community when it announced its desire to host the 2008 Games. When all is said and done, it is not by staging a successful Olympic Games, but by honoring these commitments that China will bolster its international stature as a leader among nations.

We therefore recommend that the Chinese government:

·    Release all writers and journalists currently imprisoned and stop detaining, harassing, and censoring writers and journalists in China;

·    End Internet censorship, and reform laws used to imprison writers and journalists and suppress freedom of expression; and

·    Abide by its pledge that “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games.”

We further recommend that nations participating in the Olympic Games:

·    Use every available occasion to press the Chinese government to release all writers and journalists imprisoned in China before the Olympics; reform laws used to detain, harass, and censor writers and journalists; and lift all restrictions on all media up to and through the Olympic Games;

·    Seek viable and meaningful ways to hold China accountable to the pledges it made in securing the Olympic Games to improve its human rights record; and

·    Secure clear assurances from the Chinese government that no Chinese citizens, Chinese or foreign journalists, athletes or spectators will be detained or otherwise prevented from expressing their views peacefully during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
WRITERS IMPRISONED IN CHINA
As of July 8, 2008

Chen Daojun

Freelance writer and journalist, detained May 9, 2008 by the Public Security Bureau of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province and charged with “inciting splittism.” The charge most likely stems from an article Chen published following the Tibetan protests in March which declared respect to the Tibetan people, defended their basic rights and condemned the Chinese government’s violent crackdown on protesters. He has also written articles against governmental projects and the politics of the Beijing Olympics. Chen is currently being held at the Detention Center of the Public Security Bureau of Jintang County.

Chen Shuqing

Dissident writer and leading member of the Zhejiang Branch of the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), arrested September 14, 2006 and charged with “inciting subversion.” Chen’s case has twice been handed back to the police for lack of evidence, but on August 14, 2007 he was sentenced to four years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights. His appeal was rejected without trial by the Zhejiang High People’s Court on October 29, 2007. Chen is being held at Qiaosi Prison in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province.

Guo Qizhen

Cyber-dissident arrested on May 12, 2006 and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for 34 articles he published on overseas web sites attacking the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Guo was sentenced to four years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights on October 17, 2006. He is being held in Cangzhou Detention Center No. 2 in Heibei Province, and is reportedly nursing a broken leg and is in a fragile psychological state, possibly due to abuse.

Dawa Gyaltsen

Tibetan dissident arrested in November 1995 for writing pro-independence pamphlets which were posted in April 1995 as part of widespread protests against the Chinese authorities. Dawa was charged with carrying out “counter-revolutionary propaganda” and is now serving a 15-year prison sentence. He is currently being held in the notorious Drapchi Prison in Lhasa. He was reportedly severely tortured under interrogation, and has suffered numerous forms of abuse in prison, including beatings, psychological stress, and lack of access to fresh air. When he was first arrested, he was handcuffed and thrown into a dark room without food for 10 days.

Jampel Gyatso

Monk from Drakar Trezong monastery in Qinghai Province, where he was on the editorial team of the monastery’s journal, The Charm of the Sun and Moon. Jampel was arrested on January 16, 2005 and sentenced to three years re-education through labor (RTL). He is currently being held in Topa RTL Camp at Huangzhong Dzong, near Xining.

Hada

Owner of the Mongolian Academic Bookstore and founder and editor-in-chief of underground journal The Voice of Southern Mongolia, arrested December 10, 1995 and sentenced to 15 years in prison and four years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting separatism and espionage” on December 6, 1996. Hada is currently being held at No. 4 Prison of Inner Mongolia in Chi Feng City, and is suffering from stomach ulcers and coronary heart disease.

He Depu

Dissident activist and writer arrested on November 4, 2002 and subsequently sentenced to eight years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion.” He’s trial lasted a mere two hours before he was convicted on charges that stemmed from his collaboration with the banned China Democracy Party (CDP) and his internet essays. He is currently being held in Beijing No. 2 Prison, and has reportedly suffered numerous abuses there, including beatings that left permanent injuries.

He Yanjie

Freelance reporter working as Qi Chonghuai’s research assistant in the investigation of local corruption and injustice prior to his detention on June 25, 2007. He was formally charged with “blackmail” on August 2, 2007, and his case was handed to the Tengzhou People’s Procuratorate on November 2, 2007 – one month later than the law permits. He was tried by the Tengzhou City Court in Shandong Province on May 13, 2008, and sentenced to two years in prison. He is currently being held at the Tengzhou City Detention Center.

Hu Jia

Freelance reporter and blogger, civil rights, environmental and AIDS activist, arrested December 27, 2007 at his home in Beijing on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” Hu was officially charged on January 30, 2008 by the Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate, and on March 7, his case was submitted to the prosecution. Hu stood trial on March 18, and on April 3, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights. On May 8, 2008, he was transferred from the Beijing Municipal Detention Center to Chaobai Prison, Hangu District, Tianjin City, where his health is reportedly deteriorating due to prison conditions.

Hu Shigen

University lecturer, political activist and dissident writer, arrested September 27, 1992 and charged with “counterrevolutionary crimes” for planning June 4 memorial activities in many of China’s major cities. Hu was a founding member of the China Freedom and Democracy Party (CFDP) and China Free Trade Union (CFTU) and has campaigned for government accountability for the violent suppression of the Democracy Movement in June 1989. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and five years’ deprivation of political rights and is currently being held in Beijing No. 2 Prison. His sentence has recently been reduced by a total of two years. His health is deteriorating but he is reportedly being denied medical care for a number of conditions.

Huang Jinqiu (pen name: Qing Shuijun)

Internet essayist, writer and journalist, arrested on September 13, 2003 and sentenced to 12 years in prison and four years’ deprivation of civil rights for “organizing, planning and carrying out subversive activities” and for writing “reactionary” articles on the internet. Huang was severely tortured during the first two years in jail. His situation has improved in the past year and his sentence has been reduced by 22 months.

Huang Qi

Cyber-dissident, writer, director and co-founder of the Tianwang Human Rights Center, detained June 10, 2008 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Huang was last seen being forced into a car by three unidentified men, and was later confirmed to be held by the police at the Detention Center of the Public Security Bureau of Chengdu City on suspicion of “illegally holding state secrets.” His detention may stem from his criticism of the government’s handling of the May 12th Sichuan earthquake.

Korash Huseyin

Editor of the Uighur-language Kashgar Literary Journal, arrested for publishing Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s short story «Wild Pigeon» in late 2004. Chinese authorities consider the story to be a criticism of their government’s presence in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Huseyin was sentenced to three years in prison and is due to be released in 2008.

Jin Haike

Geologist and writer, arrested March 13, 2001 along with Xu Wei, Yang Zili, and Zhang Honghai after participating in the “Xin Qingnian Xuehui” (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate relevant articles. Jin was finally sentenced on May 28, 2003 to 10 years in prison on charges of subversion. He is currently being held at Beijing No. 2 Prison and is suffering from multiple medical conditions whose causes are still unclear.

Kong Youping

Internet writer and factory worker, arrested December 13, 2003 after posting five articles and seven poems on an overseas website that alleged corruption. Kong was sentenced on September 16, 2004 to 15 years in prison for “subverting state power,” a sentence that was reduced to 10 years on appeal. He is currently being held at Lingyuan City Prison in Liaoning Province and is reportedly suffering from high blood pressure and deteriorating eyesight.

Dolma Kyab

Writer and teacher, arrested on March 9, 2005 in Lhasa, Tibet for allegedly endangering state security in his unpublished book, The Restless Himalayas, which was comprised of 57 chapters he had written on various topics: democracy, sovereignty of Tibet, Tibet under communism, colonialism, religion and belief, and so forth. Dolma was charged with “espionage” and “illegal border crossing” at a trial conducted in secrecy, and sentenced to ten and a half years in prison. In July 2007, he was reportedly moved from Chushul Prison in Lhasa to Seilong Labor Camp in Xining, and is seriously ill.

Jamyang Kyi

Prominent Tibetan writer, reporter, activist and singer detained April 1, 2008 in Qinghai Province. Kyi was reportedly escorted from her office at the state-owned Qinghai TV in Xining by plainclothes police officers and has not been seen since April 7. Police searched her home and confiscated her computer and contacts lists. Her whereabouts are currently unknown.
Li Zhi

Internet writer and financial officer in the Dazhou municipal government in Sichuan Province, arrested August 11, 2003 after posting essays accusing Sichuan officials of corruption on an overseas website. Li was sentenced to eight years in prison and four years’ deprivation of political rights on December 10, 2003 on charges of “subverting state power.” Evidence was supplied by Yahoo!, which passed on his user information to the authorities. He is currently being held in Sichuan No. 3 Prison in Dazhu County.

Lu Gengsong

Writer and human rights activist, arrested on August 24, 2007 after his articles critical of the authorities were published online. Lu was formally charged with “inciting subversion of state power” on September 29, 2007, and stood trial before the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court on January 22, 2008.  He was convicted, and on February 5, 2008 he was sentenced to four years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights. In a closed trial on April 14, 2008, the Zhejiang Provincial High Court rejected an appeal. He is currently being held in Xijiao Prison, Hangzhou City.

Lu Jianhua

Research professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Deputy Director of the Public Policy Research Center, and Executive Director of the China Development Strategy, arrested in April 2005 on charges of “leaking state secrets” to Hong Kong-based reporter Ching Cheong. After a secret trial lasting only 90 minutes on December 18, 2006, Lu was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is reportedly being held incommunicado in Beijing City jail.

Lu Zengqi

Falun Gong member and internet writer, sentenced on February 19, 2004 to 10 years in prison for writing an online publication which “tarnished the image of the government by broadcasting fabricated stories of persecution suffered by cult members.” The newsletter alleged ill-treatment in prison of a fellow Falun Gong member.

Abdulghani Memetemin

Writer, teacher and translator from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, arrested July 26, 2002 after providing information to the East Turkestan Information Centre (ETIC), a Uighur rights and pro-independence group run by exiled Uighurs in Germany. Memetemin was convicted in June 2003 by the Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court of “illegally providing state secrets to overseas organizations” and sentenced to nine years in prison. He was reportedly denied legal representation at his trial and has been tortured in prison.

Ning Xianhua

Internet writer and factory worker, arrested December 13, 2003 after posting online essays supporting the establishment of trade unions and the China Democracy Party (CDP). Ning was sentenced on September 16, 2004 to 12 years in prison for “subverting state power,” a sentence that was reduced to eight years on appeal. He is currently being held at Shenyang Prison in Liaoning Province.

Qi Chonghuai

Journalist detained June 25, 2007 following the publication on the Xinhuanet web site of an article alleging official corruption in the Tengzhou Communist Party. Qi was formally charged with “blackmail” on August 2, 2007, and his case was handed to the Tengzhou People’s Procuratorate on November 2, 2007 – one month later than the law permits. He was tried by the Tengzhou City Court in Shandong Province on May 13, 2008. Immediately following the 11-hour proceedings, Qi was convicted of “extortion and blackmail” and sentenced to four years in prison. He is currently being held at the Tengzhou City Detention Center, and has endured abuse at the hands of court policemen.

Shi Tao

Journalist, poet, and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested November 24, 2004 after he emailed the government’s plans for controlling media during the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Shi was sentenced on April 30, 2005 to 10 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “illegally divulging state secrets abroad” after Yahoo! supplied his user information to authorities. He is currently being held in Deshan Prison, Changde City, Hunan Province.

Sun Lin (pen name: Jie Mu)

Reporter for the overseas Chinese web site Boxun News, arrested May 30, 2007 after writing articles on sensitive subjects including crime and police brutality. His wife, writer He Fang, was also charged and given a suspended sentence. On June 27, 2008, during a hearing in which neither his family nor lawyer were present, Sun was handed a four-year prison sentence for “gathering crowds to cause social unrest” and “illegal possession of firearms.” Before his arrest, he had documented several instances of police harassment.

Tao Haidong

Internet writer and editor, arrested July 9, 2002 in his home in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region while in the process of posting articles on the internet. Tao was found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to seven years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights. He is currently being held in Changji Prison in Changji City, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Tohti Tunyaz (pen name: Muzart)

Ethnic Uighur historian and writer, arrested February 6, 1998 while on a research trip in Urumqi for his studies at Tokyo University, where he was working towards a Ph.D. in Uighur history and ethnic relations. Tunyaz was sentenced on February 15, 2000 to eleven years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “stealing state secrets” and “inciting national disunity.” He is currently being held in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Prison No. 3 in Urumqi.

Wang Xiaoning

Internet writer and dissident, arrested on September 1, 2002 and charged with subversion for articles published online between 2000 and 2002. Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights on July 25, 2003 after Yahoo! supplied his user information to Chinese authorities. He is currently being held in Beijing No. 2 Prison and has reportedly been tortured.

Wu Yilong

Internet writer and China Democracy Party (CDP) activist, arrested in June 1999 for circulating pro-democracy articles on the internet and for his work with the magazine Zai Yedang (Opposition Party). Wu was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of subversion on November 9, 1999. He is currently being held in Zhejiang No. 4 Prison in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province.

Xu Wei

Reporter for Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer Daily), arrested March 13, 2001 along with Jin Haike, Yang Zili, and Zhang Honghai after participating in the “Xin Qingnian Xuehui” (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate relevant articles. Xu was finally sentenced on May 28, 2003 to 10 years in prison on charges of subversion. He is currently being held at Beijing No. 2 Prison, where he has suffered ill-treatment, and has gone on hunger strike several times.

Xu Zerong

Research professor at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, arrested June 24, 2000 and sentenced on December 20, 2001 to 13 years in prison for leaking state secrets and illegal business activities related to his research on Chinese military operations during the Korean War. Xu is reportedly being held in a section of Xichuan Prison reserved for elderly and sick prisoners and is suffering from serious health conditions.

Yan Zhengxue

Dissident writer, painter and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested October 18, 2006 for his critical writings published online on overseas websites. Yan was sentenced to three years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power” on April 13 2007. He is being held in Shiliping Prison in Quzhou City, Zhejiang Province.

Yang Maodong (pen name: Guo Feixiong)

Dissident writer, independent publisher and civil rights activist, arrested on September 14, 2006 and sentenced on November 14, 2007 to five years in prison for “illegal business activity.” Yang has endured intense torture at the hands of prison authorities, including beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and suspension by his arms and legs while attacked with electric prods. The abuse has reportedly driven him to attempt suicide. Yang began a hunger strike at Meizhou Prison, Meizhou City, Guangdong Province on December 13, 2007 to protest the deprivation of his basic rights.

Yang Tongyan (pen name: Yang Tianshui)

Dissident writer and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested without a warrant on December 23, 2005 in Nanjing and held incommunicado until January 27, 2006. Yang was convicted of subversion for posting anti-government articles on the internet and organizing branches of the China Democracy Party (CDP), and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. He is currently being held in Nanjing Prison in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, and his diabetes is reportedly worsening in prison.

Yang Zili

Writer and computer engineer, arrested March 13, 2001 along with Xu Wei, Jin Haike, and Zhang Honghai after participating in the “Xin Qingnian Xuehui” (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate relevant articles. Yang was finally sentenced on May 28, 2003 to eight years in prison on charges of subversion. He is currently suffering from numerous ailments but has yet to receive any medical treatment.

Nurmuhemmet Yasin

Freelance Uighur writer, arrested on November 29, 2004 for the publication for his short story “Wild Pigeon” (“Yawa Kepter”), which Chinese authorities consider to be a criticism of their government’s presence in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. After a closed trial in February 2005 at which he was denied a lawyer, Yasin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “inciting Uighur separatism,” and is currently being held in Urumqi No. 1 Prison. He has been denied all visitors since his arrest.

Yuan Qiuyan

Falun Gong member and internet publisher, sentenced on February 19, 2004 to 10 years in prison for publishing an online publication which “tarnished the image of the government by broadcasting fabricated stories of persecution suffered by cult members.” The newsletter alleged ill-treatment in prison of a fellow Falun Gong member.

Zeng Hongling

Writer and retired worker from Mianyang, Sichuan Province, detained June 9, 2008 by plainclothes police from the Public Security Bureau of Mianyang on suspicion of “illegally providing information overseas” for articles published on an overseas Chinese web site. The articles, part of a series entitled “The Accounts of My Personal Experiences During the Earthquake,” were published along with her own photographs under a pen name, Shanshan. Zeng is currently being held incommunicado at the Detention Center of the Mianyang Public Security Bureau.

Zhang Honghai

Freelance writer, arrested March 13, 2001 along with Jin Haike, Xu Wei, and Yang Zili after participating in the “Xin Qingnian Xuehui” (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate relevant articles. Zhang was finally sentenced on May 28, 2003 to eight years in prison on charges of subversion. He is currently being held at Qiaosi Prison in Zhejiang Province.  Zhang is reportedly suffering from several medical conditions and has been ill-treated in prison.

Zhang Jianhong (pen name: Li Hong)

Freelance writer, playwright, poet and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested on September 6, 2006 and charged with “incitement to subversion of state power” for his critical articles published on overseas websites. Zhang was sentenced to six years in prison on March 19, 2007. He is reportedly suffering from muscle necrosis, a condition that has led to partial paralysis and continues to worsen despite his transfer to the General Hospital of Zhejiang Prison in Hangzhou City. He applied for medical parole on May 31, 2007, but that application was denied. He has not yet received a response to a more recent application.

Zhang Lin

Dissident writer, pro-democracy advocate and member of Independent Chinese PEN Center, arrested January 27, 2005 for a number of “subversive” articles he had written and subsequently posted on the internet between August 2003 and January 2005. Zhang was convicted of “incitement to subversion” by the Bangbu Intermediate People’s Court on July 28, 2005 and sentenced to five years in prison and four years’ deprivation of political rights. He is currently being held in Nanjiao Prison in Hefei City, and is said to be very weak and suffering from several medical conditions.

Zheng Yichun

Poet, professor and freelance journalist, arrested December 3, 2004 in connection with 63 articles he had written for foreign-based publications and websites. Zheng was convicted of “incitement to subversion of state power” on July 21, 2005 and sentenced to seven years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights. He is currently being held in Jinzhou Prison, Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province, where he is suffering from diabetes.

Zhu Yufu

Internet writer, founder and editor of the China Democracy Party’s magazine, arrested April 18, 2007 and sentenced to two years in prison on July 10, 2007 after pushing a policeman during his arrest. On March 28, 2008, Zhu was re-tried by the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, and on April 9 he was sentenced to an additional two years, four months and 26 days’ deprivation of political rights. He is currently being held in Zhejiang No. 6 Prison in Haining City, Zhejiang Province. Zhu had been previously imprisoned and was released in 2006 after serving seven years for his dissident activity.

RELEASED SINCE DECEMBER 10, 2007

Ching Cheong

Hong Kong-based correspondent for Singapore’s The Straits Times, arrested April 22, 2005 and sentenced to five years in prison on charges of espionage after Chinese authorities claimed he received state secrets from academic Lu Jianhua. Ching was released on parole on February 5, 2008, two years before his sentence was due to expire.

Feng Zhenghu

Rights defender, online writer and freelance journalist, detained on June 5, 2008 by police from the Yangpu District Branch of the Public Security Bureau in Shanghai on suspicion of “intentionally disturbing public order.” The charge is believed to stem from a collection of articles Feng published and distributed alleging wrongful convictions by the Shanghai courts, along with other writings. Police reportedly raided his home and confiscated written materials and three computers. Feng was released on June 15, 2008, and his belongings were returned on June 18.

Guo Quan

Writer and former professor of literature at Nanjing Normal University, detained May 17, 2008 following seven articles he published on mainland Chinese web sites that criticize the government’s emergency response to the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the safety of certain infrastructures. Guo’s computers were confiscated by authorities. He was released from administrative detention on May 28.

Li Changqing

Deputy news director of the Fuzhou Daily, arrested December 16, 2004. After a series of charges, Li was finally sentenced to three years in prison on January 24, 2006 by the Gulou district court in southern China’s Fuzhou city for “spreading false and alarmist information.” He was released upon expiration of his sentence on February 4, 2008.

Wang Dejia (pen name: Jing Chu)

Internet writer and dissident, arrested December 13, 2007 at his home in Quanzhou in Guangxi Province on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” in relation to his online articles critical of the Chinese government in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Wang was held at the Detention Center of Quanzhou County before being released on January 12, 2008, pending trial, on condition that he not write anything “attacking the leadership of the Party and State,” “inciting subversion of state power,” or any “political commentary.”

Yu Huafeng

Deputy Editor-in-chief and general manager of the Guangzhou-based daily Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis News), arrested January 14, 2004 for alleged financial irregularities, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. It has been reported that the evidence presented in court did not support the charges, and it is widely believed that Yu’s imprisonment was part of a targeted campaign to silence the newspaper, which is known for its aggressive reporting on social issues and official corruption. Yu was released on February 8, 2008, after his sentence was reduced for the third time.

Zhou Yuanzhi

Freelance writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, detained by the National Security Bureau of Zhongxiang City, Hubei Province on May 3, 2008 on suspicion of “inciting subversion” for his critiques on social issues and official corruption. Zhou was released on May 15, 2008 and is forbidden from traveling beyond his home city without police authorization, prohibited from communicating with strangers, and banned from publishing. These restrictions could last up to six months under Chinese law, during which he could be formally detained and questioned at any time.

In solidarity with the people of Tibet

25. April 2008

 

Chungdak Koren
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
Tordenskjoldsgate 6 B
0160 Oslo

Dear Chungdak Koren

The board of Norwegian PEN wishes to express its solidarity and support, both with the people of Tibet, and with the work of the Norwegian Tibet Committee, during their ongoing fight for free expression and respect for universal human rights.  Now that this conflict has re-surfaced on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it is increasingly important that human rights- and freedom of expression organizations and activists worldwide show their solidarity with the people of Tibet and their organizations.

On this background, the board of Norwegian PEN, supports the Norwegian Tibet Committee´s demands that

·    an international, independant investigation of the recent demonstrations in Tibet be carried out by the United Nations

·    the Olympic Torch Relay will not include visits to Tibet as this will further escalate this conflict

·    Norwegian politicians and official guests find efficient ways to demonstrate their concern with the present human rights situation in China, for instance by not attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Sincerely

Anders Heger/s.                                                Carl Morten Iversen
President                                                          Secretary General

Copy: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2007: China: Wang Dejia

21 December 2007

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council, Beijing 100032, P.R.China.
Procurator General Mr. Jia Chunwang
Supreme People’s Procuratorate
Beiheyan Street 147
100726 Beijing, P.R.China

Your Excellencies,

I, as Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN, am seriously concerned about the detention of dissident writer Wang Dejia.

Wang Dejia was taken from his home in Guilin, in China’s southern Guangxi Province, on 13 December 2007 and brought to the Quanzhou Chengbei police Station, where he was detained on suspicion of ‘inciting subversion of state power’.

We fear that he is arrested in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China became a signatory in 1998.

Confident that you, Your Excellencies, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Elisabet W. Middelthon
Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN Centre

Copies to:
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Chinese Embassy, Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian Embassy, Beijing, China

2007: China: Zhang Jianhong

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

Governor of the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Government
LU Zushan, Zhejiangsheng Renmin Zhengfu
9 Shengfulu, Hangzhoushi 310007, P.R.China.

Chief of the Zhejiang Provincial Prison Management Bureau
GE Bingyao, Zhejiangsheng Jianyu Guanliju
110 Tianmushanlu, Hangzhoushi. P.R.China

President of the Zhejiang Provinsial High People’s Court
YING Yong
Zhejiangsheng Gaoji Renmin Fayuan
5 Machenglu, Hangzhoushi 310012, P.R.China.

19 December 2007

Your Excellencies,

I, as Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN, am alarmed about reports that the health of prominent writer Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong) is rapidly deteriorating.

Norwegian PEN is protesting the six-year prison sentence handed down to Zhang Jianhong , and we call for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and on humanitarian grounds.

Norwegian PEN urges that he receives all necessary and adquate medical treatment pending his release.

Confident that you, Your Excellencies, will take action accordingly, I remain,
Yours sincerely,

Elisabet W. Middelthon
Chair, Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN Centre

Copies to:
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Chinese Embassy, Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian Embassy, Beijing, China