To mark the ten-year anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to writer, literary critic and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo on December 10, 2010, PEN International is launching its new campaign from December 4-10, 2020.
The Liu Xiaobo Anniversary Campaign will act 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), while also highlighting the case of writers Gui Minhai, Chimengül Awut, Kunchok Tsephel, Yang Hengjun and Qin Yongmin who are currently detained by the PRC government.
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.
The anniversary date has an added significance as it coincides with Human Rights Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The date also coincides with the publication of the Charter 08 manifesto on December 10, 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.
For five days in the run-up to the anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, PEN Centres around the world will raise awareness of a different writer, asking its members to write letters to the PRC officials and calling for their release. On 10 December, PEN International will release a video commemorating Liu Xiaobo, remembering his life and his enduring influence in the PRC.
As a founding member and former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, Liu Xiaobo will always be remembered by the PEN community for his selfless work inspiring others through his writing. In recognition of his peaceful struggle for human rights in the PRC, Liu Xiaobo was the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Xiaobo was denied the ability to receive the award in person by his own government, who saw his selfless work to improve the lives of others as a threat to their monopoly on power. Ross Holder, Regional Coordinator for the Asia/ Pacific Region.
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. A former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and an active PEN member, Liu was arrested in December 2008 and charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power’, with a sentence of 11 years in prison. 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.
Note to editors:
Ross Holder, PEN International’s expert on the People’s Republic of China and Regional Coordinator for the Asia/ Pacific Region will be available for interviews.
For further information on the campaign and PEN International’s work, please contact Sabrina Tucci, Communications and Campaigns Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @pen_int Facebook: www.facebook.com/peninternational | www.pen-international.org
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.