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CHINA: Renewed crackdown on dissidents and activists; fears for safety

Wednesday 2 March 2011 - 12:00am

RAN 09/11 2 March 2011

PEN International is alarmed at reports of a violent crackdown on government critics and human rights defenders in recent days in response to increased fears of social unrest. Over one hundred human rights defenders and activists have reportedly been harassed, intimidated or detained and a number of foreign journalists assaulted in a targeted campaign to suppress dissent. Members of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) are amongst those targeted. PEN International reminds the Chinese authorities of their obligations to uphold the right to freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of assembly as guaranteed by Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party. It calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained for the peaceful expression of their views, and seeks urgent guarantees of the safety of those held without due process.

Since 16 February 2011 police have stepped up their harassment of human rights defenders and activists across the country, apparently in response to anonymous calls for ‘Jasmine Revolution' protests. Many have been briefly detained, harassed, summoned or place under house arrest, but at least five prominent rights activists and dissidents have been reportedly criminally detained for allegedly ‘endangering state security' and may face charges of ‘inciting subversion' or ‘subversion of state power'. They include writer Ran Yunfei and prominent ‘weiquan' or ‘rights protection' lawyer Teng Biao, both members of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, arrested on 19 February 2011. Both men are feared to be at risk of torture or ill-treatment in detention.

PEN is also alarmed at reports of the increasingly widespread use of extra-judicial or ‘soft' detention, in which government critics are subject to arbitrary arrest without charge, abduction, assault and intimidation. Of particular concern is the persecution of Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned dissident writer and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has been held incommunicado under strict house arrest at her home in Beijing since 18 October 2010 and is denied any contact with the outside world. Concerns for her welfare and psychological integrity are acute.

For further information see the following links:

Writings by Ran Yunfei:

BBC News reports:

Please send appeals:
Expressing alarm at the recent crackdown on dissent in which writers, journalists and human rights defenders are amongst those to have targeted
Reminding the Chinese authorities of their obligations under Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which it is a state party
Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in the P.R.China for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression

Send appeals to:
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
Beijingshi 100740
People's Republic of China.
Fax: +86 1065242927

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

Minister of Public Security of the People's Republic of China.
MENG Jianzhu
14 Dongchang'anjie
Beijingshi 100741
People's Republic of China.

Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. WiPC recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.

You may find it easier to write to the Chinese ambassador in your own country asking him or her to forward your appeal. Most embassies are obliged to forward such appeals to the relevant officials in the country. A letter or petition signed by an eminent member of your Centre may give make it more likely for your appeal to be considered. Similarly if your appeal is published in your local press and copied to the Chinese ambassador, this too may have greater impact.

Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 31 March 2011

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: