ICPC Statement on PEN International Day of Imprisoned Writers

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For Press Release

Three Writers Honored To Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Awards

On 15 November 2011, Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) announced that three imprisoned writers, Hada, QIN Yongmin and CHEN Wei, were honored as this year’s laureates of its Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award for their long-term tenacity and courage in writing regardless of repeated imprisonments; Besides, ICPC have granted 9 new honorary members, CHEN Wei, LI Tie, Memetjan Abdulla, WANG Lihong (Female), Jangtse Donkho, Buddha, Kalsang Jinpa, Dokru Tsultrim, and WEN Yan (aka SUN Buer).

55 of ICPC 70 previous honorary members have been released, while 15 remain in prison, including ZHENG Yichun, KONG Youping, Nurmuhemmet YASIN, WANG Xiaoning, QI Chonghuai, XU Wanping, HU Mingjun, LU Jianhua, GUO Quan, ZHANG Qi, YUAN Xianchen, TAN Zuoren, Hailaite Niyazi, LIU Xianbin, and LIU Yonggen. There are also four of ICPC members, SHI Tao, YANG Tongyan, LIU Xiaobo and ZHU Yufu, have been still imprisoned.

Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award was ICPC’ “Writers in Prison Award” created in 2006. The previous laureates are YANG Tongyan, ZHANG Lin, LÜ Gengsong, DU Daobin, XU Zerong, LIU Xianbin and Zarganar (Burma). In March 2010, it was renamed for the commemoration of the courage in writing manifested over last 20 years by Dr. Liu Xiaobo, ICPC’s honorary and former President who has now been condemned to a severe sentence of 11 years in prison as well as for his constant support to this award. Dr. Liu was honored the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010.

Hada, 56, is a Mongolian leading rights activist and former editor of Inner Mongolia People’s Press. Hada was committed to saving Mongolia Culture in his 6-year work of editor. He had opened a bookstore with his wife, Xinna in Hohhot to promote Mongolia Culture. Hada was detained in December 10, 1995 and then sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and 4 years deprivation of political rights on “splittism” and “espionage” for organizing the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance and founding the underground magazine Sound of the South Mongolia. The true reason was Hada had written a book the Way of Inner Mongolia, which described the reality of many Mongolians had been persecuted to death in the successive political movements, and the impact and destruction of Mongolian cultural and religious traditions. It was reported that Hada suffered inhuman torture and beaten, and prohibited to read and write during his imprisonment due to refusing confess. He remains missing after released on December 10, 2010. The bookstore which his wife and son live on had been raided and closed down before his release. His wife and sonhave been detained in different places. The authorities try to threat Hada with his family, but Hada never gives up. Hada has always adhered to the idea “peace and nonviolence”. PEN International and other human rights groups have always concerned about Hada’s case and take it as a typical case of Chinese authorities violated human rights of freedom of speech, publishing and associating. Canada PEN and Independent Chinese PEN Center have granted him honorary member.

QIN Yongmin, 58, has a long history of political activism in Wuhan, Hubei Province, and spent more than two of the past three decades in prison. He was a key participant of the Wuhan Democracy Wall Movement in 1979 and was also the chief editor of Bell, an independent magazine. From 1981 to 1989, Qin was imprisoned for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement”. From 1993 to 1995, Qin served two years of Reeducation-Through-Labor for drafting the “Peace Charter”, which asked the Chinese government to reevaluate its stance on the June Fourth crackdown in 1989, release all political prisoners, and allow exiled students and academics to return to China. In 1998, Qin founded the China Human Rights Watch, an organization that published a newsletter on human rights situations in China. He also co-founded the Preparatory Committee of Hubei Provincial Branch of China Democracy Party and applied for registration. Then Qin was detained on November 30, 1998 and later sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and 3 years deprivation of political rights on “subversion of state power”. He was released on November 29, 2010. Regardless the risk under the police surveillance during an additional punishment of his deprivation of political rights for three years, he engaged in freelance writing as well as in human rights and pro-democracy activities. Qin’s writings incudes fictions, political commentaries, theses, memoirs and reports, such as, Four Stages of Contemporary Democratic Transition in China and the Current Situation and Tasks; On Social Philosophy of the Rights-based Concept; How Much Hated in Dream Last Night (Novel). Qin Yongmin adheres to independent thinking and courageous expression in totalitarian regime in China. He always maintains conscience and courage of a freelance writer indomitably. He has joined ICPC this year.

CHEN Wei, 42, is a freelance writer and an important human rights activist in Sichuan Province. He took part in the pro-democratic movement in Beijing in 1989 when he was a college student. Then he had been detained for over a year before his release by the end of 1990. He was arrested again in May, 1992, and sentenced five years for “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement” for his participation China Liberty Democracy Party, together with HU Shigen, KANG Yuchun, and LIU Jingsheng, the honorary members of several PEN centers. After his release in 1997, he engaged in freelance writing as well as in human rights and pro-democracy activities until he was arrested the third time on February 20 this year. He is now charged on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” without trial. In the past 20 years, Chen constantly maintained his very courage to write and continuously published numerous series, such as, the June 4th Incident and China Democracy Transition, a very insightful analysis of the causes of the tragedy. He was one of 303 primary signatories of Charter 08. Chen not only wrote a lot of work to spread democracy and universal values, but also took actions to defend human rights and free expression. His sacrifice made him to be the pride of “generation 1989” as well as the outstanding example of Chinese contemporary youth.

Each year on November 15, members all over the world of PEN international commemorate “Day of Imprisoned Writers” and honor the courage of colleagues imprisoned to fight against the repression and defend freedom of expression. ICPC reiterates that freedom of expression, including freedom to write and publish, is inalienable and fundamental human rights. ICPC will continue to urge release of Liu Xiaobo, Hada, Chen Wei and all of those imprisoned for their words.

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 and advocates for the rights of writers and journalists who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted or harassed in China particularly.

For more information, contact
Dr. Yu Zhang,
Executive Secretary and Coordinator for Press & Translation Committee (P&TC)
Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC)
Tel: 46-8-50022792
Email: [email protected]
Websites: http://www.chinesepen.org/english/ & http://liuxiaobo.eu/