PEN International marks the ten-year anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to deceased writer, literary critic and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo on 10 December 2010. The Liu Xiaobo Anniversary Campaign acts as a commemoration of Liu Xiaobo’s life, his contribution to Chinese literature, and his selfless work promoting basic freedoms in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The anniversary date coincides with Human Rights Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. The date also coincides with the publication of the Charter 08 Manifesto on 10 December 2008. This is a seminal document, co-authored by Liu Xiaobo and other Chinese activists, which calls for greater human rights and democratic freedoms in the PRC.
WatchMadeleine Thien’s video about our campaign
Liu Xiaobo had said he had no enemies, and indeed, he had none. The ideas he represented, that all people are equal, that they have the right to lead their lives as they wish, that individual liberty is the core of humanity, that we respect the dignity of each individual, became anathema for those in power in China. They jailed him for his words and ideas and only granted him medical parole when he had little time left. They tried to get the world to forget him; the world won't, just as the world won't forget the poets, writers, publishers, and intellectuals who continue to remain in jail in China, denied their freedoms and their platform. We will read their words, amplify their voices, and stare back at China, drawing inspiration from the man in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square, the Uyghurs in Chinese camps, the democracy activists on the streets of Hong Kong, as Charter 08 keeps reminding us. Salil Tripathi, Chair, PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee, Writer and Journalist.
What difference does the Liu Xiaobo Anniversary Campaign make?
Besides commemorating Liu Xiaobo, remembering his life and his enduring influence in the PRC, the campaign highlights the case of writers Gui Minhai, Kunchok Tsephel, Yang Hengjun and Qin Yongmin who are currently detained by the PRC government. For all featured writers, the campaign raises awareness of their situation, boosts advocacy work on their behalf and ensures that they and their families feel supported and not forgotten. Activities range from letter-writing to panel discussions, press conferences to publishing the work of imprisoned writers. PEN Centres and members worldwide take action to advocate for these cases throughout the campaign.
How can I take action for the Liu Xiaobo Anniversary Campaign?
Please raise awareness of a different writer, write letters to the PRC officials and call for their release using #LiuXiaoboanniversary, #GuiMinhai, #KunchokTsephel, #YangHengjun, #QinYongmin.
Liu Xiaobo was President and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. He was arrested in 2008 for signing the Charter 08 Manifesto and held incommunicado under pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing, until he was formally charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power’ and sentenced to eleven years in prison. Liu Xiaobo spent the last eight years of his life in Jinzhou prison in Northeast China, with little or no access to family, friends or colleagues. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China". He died in police custody in 2017.
PEN International promotes literature and freedom of expression and is governed by the PEN Charter and the principles it embodies: unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations. Founded in London in 1921, PEN International – PEN’s Secretariat – connects an international community of writers. It is a forum where writers meet freely to discuss their work; it is also a voice speaking out for writers silenced in their own countries. Through Centres in over 100 countries, PEN operates on five continents. PEN International is a non-political organisation which holds Special Consultative Status at the UN and Associate Status at UNESCO. PEN International is a registered charity in England and Wales with registration number 1117088.
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