PEN’S LETTER TO CHINESE AUTHORITIES PROTESTING THE TREATMENT OF LIU XIA

By: PEN America
March 29, 2013
March 29, 2013

XI Jinping Guojia Zhuxi
President
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Xichengqu
Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China

LI Keqiang Guojia Zongli
Premier
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Xichengqu
Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 65961109

Your Excellencies:

On behalf of the 3,350 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to reiterate our alarm regarding the treatment of poet and artist Liu Xia. We are especially concerned about reports that Liu Xia’s brother, Liu Hui, has recently been arrested, and that the arrest may be an attempt to increase pressure on Liu Xia herself, who has been held incommunicado under extralegal house arrest since October 8, 2010.

According to our information, on January 31, 2013, police detained Liu Hui just before a planned family reunion for the Lunar New Year. Two weeks ago, he was formally arrested and charged over a business dispute that is believed to have been resolved, and he is reportedly to stand trial in May. Reports on the arrest suggest that Liu Xia and her family believe the arrest is politically motivated, and possibly in retaliation for two visits she received from international media and from friends late last year.

Liu Xia has been under house arrest since her husband, Liu Xiaobo, was announced the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Her Internet and phone lines have been cut, and we understand that she is only permitted occasional visits with family. We have witnessed a security cordon surrounding Liu Xia’s apartment that prevents anyone from visiting her. That security cordon was breached by AP reporters on December 6, 2012,
and by Liu Xia’s friends on December 31, 2012—both these visits revealed a startled and overwhelmed figure who cannot believe she is face to face with visitors. In February 2011, Liu Xia was able to send a message to a friend saying she was “going to go crazy” and asking for help. This is the 903rd day of her house arrest.

PEN American Center remains acutely concerned for Liu Xia’s well-being, and believes that she and her family, including her brother, Liu Hui, continue to be targeted in retaliation for world recognition of her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and continued efforts to free her from extralegal house arrest. Liu Xia has not been charged with a crime, and is thus being held outside the law according to a 2011 decision by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In line with those decisions, we therefore call for authorities to remove all restrictions on Liu Xia’s right to freedom of movement, association, and expression; to end all restrictions on and harassment of her family members; and to release Liu Xiaobo from Jinzhou Prison, where he continues to be held on charges that violate his constitutionally-protected right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

Peter Godwin
President

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Zhang Yesui
Ambassador of the PRC to the U.S.
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the U.S.
3505 International Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 495-2138

PEN America

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