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Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to former President of Independent Chinese PEN Centre
08 Oct 2010
International PEN today calls on the People’s Republic of China to release the writer and academic Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Liu, currently serving an 11-year sentence in China, is a former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and is one of the PEN Writers in Prison Committee’s most prominent cases. He is one of more than 40 writers, journalists and intellectuals detained in Chinese prisons at present.
‘Awarding Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize is an affirmation of the central importance to everyone of freedom of expression, of which he is a courageous exponent,’ states International PEN President, John Ralston Saul.
In December 2008, Liu was a signatory to an open letter to the Chinese authorities calling on the National People’s Congress to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Liu was also instrumental in launching Charter 08 on 9 December 2008, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights, which was initially signed by over 300 scholars, journalists, writers and activists. Charter 08 now has more than 10,000 signatories from throughout China and the Chinese community abroad.
Liu was arrested in December 2008 and detained until he was formally charged in June 2009 with ‘spreading rumours and defaming the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years’. He was convicted and imprisoned for 11 years on 25 December 2009.
‘Charter 08 contains this phrase: We must stop the practice of viewing words as crimes,’ says Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee. ‘Liu is serving 11 years for that simple credo, and his belief in democracy for the Chinese people. We fervently hope that Liu’s winning of the Nobel Prize furthers those causes.’
Liu Xiaobo commands great respect among Chinese intellectuals and writers, and several leading intellectuals took a bold step in signing a letter in support of his nomination for the Nobel Prize. Although he has been banned from publishing in China, his work continues to appear in Hong Kong and Chinese publications abroad.
Liu holds a doctorate in Chinese literature and taught at Beijing Normal University until prevented from doing so over his involvement in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. He was one of those intellectuals labeled the ‘Black Hands of Beijing’ by the authorities after Tiananmen Square. Since then, Liu has experienced frequent arrest, harassment and censoring of his work. He also served a three-year sentence in a labour camp in the mid-1990s.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
International PEN celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, its global community of writers now spans more than 100 countries. PEN programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers wherever they are in the world.
For more information or for an interview with International PEN, please contact Sara Whyatt, Writers in Prison Committee Programme Director, at +44 20 7405 0338 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information or for an interview with the independent Chinese PEN Centre, please contact Tienchi Liao, ICPC President, at +49 176 5472 3721, or Yu Zhang, WIPC Coordinator, at +46 8 500 22792