China: Independent Chinese PEN Centre Member Li Jianhong Detained

14 February 2014 RAN 04/14

Li JianhongPEN International joins PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) in expressing its concern at the detention of writer and ICPC member Li Jianhong. Li Jianhong, who served as the coordinator of the ICPC’s Writers in Prison Committee until the end of 2013, was arrested on 12 February 2014 after she re-entered China following years in exile in Sweden where she had continued her peaceful criticism of the Chinese authorities. She remains incommunicado at an undisclosed location and there are fears for her safety.

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Please send appeals:

• Urging the Chinese authorities to release Miss Li Jianhong immediately and unconditionally as she appears to be detained for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression;
• Calling on the authorities to ensure she is protected from torture or other ill-treatment, that she is granted immediate access to her family and a lawyer of her choice;
• Reminding the Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”.

Send appeals to:

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032, P.R. China

Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. We recommend that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments. See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country Chinese embassies abroad

**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 14 March 2014** Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to Li Jianhong’s case, including any responses you receive from the authorities.

ICPC released the following statement on 13 February 2014:

The Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) is outraged to learn that its member Miss Li Jianhong (aka Xiao Qiao) was taken into custody by the police from her home in Shanghai, China, in the afternoon of 12 February 2014, since when she has been held incommunicado in an unknown location. ICPC fears that Miss Li has been unjustly detained and mistreated for her returning to China as well as for her words and deeds abroad, and therefore strongly demands the Chinese authorities to restore her personal freedom, and ensure all of her legal rights.


Li Jianhong (pen name: Xiaoqiao), native of Bengpu, Anhui province, received a master's degree in Western Europe and North America studies from the East China Normal University in Shanghai in 1994. She has been a high school teacher, management staff of foreign-invested companies, business reporter and securities analyst. She co-founded an independent Chinese website "Enlightenment Forum" with friends in 2002. In 2004, the website shut down after its webmaster and other management staff had been taken for interrogation and investigation around the 15th anniversary of the June 4 Massacre. Then, she was persecuted by the Shanghai authorities, including police surveillance, harassments, summons, restrictions on her freedom of speech, action and movement, house arrests and short detentions for many times. She was deprived her right to work and was forced to become an independent freelancer.

With ICPC and PEN International recommendation as well as the coordination of the Norway-based International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN – ), Stockholm City government in Sweden invited Miss Li Jianhong to be a Writer of Residence in Stockholm for 2008, originally for one year and it was later extended for six more months. After several months of negotiation with the Shangai police, Li was escorted by the national security police of the Pudong District in Shanghai to the airport and left for Stockholm on April 28, 2008. In the same year, an anthology of her writings "Seawind" was published in Hong Kong, and then she joined first group of signatories of Charter 08 in December.

In 2009, Miss Li Jianhong applied to the Chinese Embassy in Sweden for the extension of her Chinese passport due to expire in late October of the same year, but got rejection. In order to return to China with a valid passport, she had to finish her programme of visiting writer earlier and left Sweden for Hong Kong on 10 October. She tried twice to enter China mainland via the border checkpoints in Shenzhen but was turned back to Hong Kong where the immigration authorities sent her to Sweden before her passport would expire soon. Then she had to get refugee status to stay in Sweden for further negotiations with the Chinese Embassy on the issue of returning to China. Four more years since then, Miss Li has always upheld her rights of Chinese citizenship to return home by applying nearly ten times to regain her passport from the Chinese Embassy and appealing several times to the authorities in China, but got no permission to return to China. In order to take care of her 77-year-old father, alone at home in Shanghai, she took an "abnormal approach" to return home alone, leaving a "Statement for Returning Home" on New Year's Day. She met her father and sister (who visited home from Germany where she has been studying) at her old hometown in Anhui Province, and then they returned together to their home in Shanghai on 11 February. In the afternoon of the following day, nearly 10 of the police raided their home and took Miss Li Jianhong away. In the evening, some of the police officers came to their home again and questioned her father and sister, but left no information on which department is responsible and what reasons are for her detention. Her whereabouts remain unknown.

Miss Li Jianhong joined ICPC in 2004, and became a member of its Women Writers Committee, and got its Lin Zhao Memorial Award in 2007. She was one of the three persecuted women writers honoured by the Writers in Prison Committee and Women Writers Committee of PEN International on International Women's Day in 2008. She was appointed the secretary-general of the ICPC's 4th Members' Congress in 2009. Since then she had successively served as the member of ICPC secretariat and several committees, became the Assistant Coordinator of ICPC Writers in Prison Committee in July 2019 and was promoted its Coordinator in November 2011, from which she resigned by the end of 2013 for her returning to China.