Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) is outraged to learn that Dr. Jiao Guobiao, ICPC member and Beijing-based writer, has been detained on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power since 12 September, the same day when PEN International sent a letter to President Hu Jintao of PRC for preventing Dr. Jiao from leaving his home to attend the 78th PEN International Congress held in Gyeongju, Korea. Dr. Jiao had been under house arrest since 6 September. ICPC strongly protests against the detention of Dr. Jiao, and calls on the international community to urge the Chinese authorities to release Dr. Jiao immediately and unconditionally.
Dr. Jiao Guobiao is a member of ICPC’s Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) as well as a former associate professor at the College of Journalism and Communication of Beijing University. In 2003, he published an article titled “Denouncing the Central Propaganda Department”, criticizing its policy of obscurantism and advocating for press freedom. The article was published at first in Open Magazine, a Hong Kong-based journal, and then spread widely over the internet. Dr. Jiao was a visiting scholar in United States in 2005, when he was dismissed by Beijing University in the name of "voluntary resignation". It is generally believed that his dismissal was due to his article “Denouncing the Central Propaganda Department”. Since then, Jiao has been subjected to police harassment, surveillance and persecution, unable to have a normal life and job. In the past two years, his personal freedom has often been restricted and he has been prevented from leaving his home to attend international activities, including PEN events in Hong Kong and abroad. He was also prevented from attending the Beijing Book Fair last year, where Holland was the Guest of Honor and where he was invited by one of the sponsors of the Dutch Section, the Dutch Foundation of Literature. On 6 September 2012, police from Haidian District Branch of Beijing’s Bureau of Public Security went to Dr. Jiao’s apartment to warn him from leaving for Korea to attend PEN International's 78th Congress for which he had registered, and then stationed outside his home to place him under tight surveillance. On 10 September, Dr John Ralston Saul, International President of PEN International, expressed his grave concern on Dr. Jiao’s case at the opening ceremony of the Congress at Gyeongju, Korea. Two days later, PEN International sent Mr. Zhang Xinsen, China’s Ambassador to the Republic of Korea a letter signed by Dr. Saul and Mr. Hori Takeaki, its International Secretary, to forward to President Hu Jintao for Dr. Jiao’s freedom, while ICPC issued a statement in protest of the police action. On the same day, however, Dr. Jiao was already detained by the police, which was not disclosed until yesterday.
Dr. Jiao Guobiao is the fifth ICPC members currently in jail and the third of them charged with inciting subversion of state power. The other two are Dr. Liu Xiaobo, ICPC former and honorary president as well as the laureate of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, and Mr. Zhu Yufu, who were sentence to 11 and 7 years imprisonment respectively in 2009 and 2012. Besides, Mr. Shi Tao and Mr. Yang Tongyan have been serving their sentences of 10 and 12 years since 2004 and 2005, respectively. ICPC believes that Dr. Jiao Guobiao has been detained only for his free expression, a basic right that shall be protected under Article 35 of China’s Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which China is a signatory. We fear that he may face unjust and harsh punishment similar to those imposed on the four colleagues mentioned above.
On the other hand, Wu Wei (aka Ye Du), ICPC's Deputy Secretary-general and Network Committee coordinator, was taken to the police station by public security police in Guangzhou for interrogation at 9:30am today, and only released at around 3pm. He attended the PEN International 78th Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, and returned to Guangzhou at 2am today. He is now restricted to stay at home under police surveillance.
ICPC protests in the strongest terms against the detention of Dr. Jiao Guobiao, the imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo, Zhu Yufu, Shi Tao and Yang Tongyan, and the restriction on Wu Wei, and calls on all the international community to urge the Chinese authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally.
PEN International is the oldest human rights organization and international literary organization. ICPC is among its 145 member centers and aims to protect writers’ freedom of expression and freedom to write worldwide. In particular ICPC also advocates for the rights of writers and journalists who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted or harassed in China.
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