Liu Hui Receives 11-year Prison Sentence

PEN Canada press release

On June 9, 2013  Liu Hui, brother-in-law of imprisoned Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, was fined 20,000 yuan for fraud and sentenced to 11 years in prison with two years deprivation of political rights. Shortly afterwards, the Independent Chinese PEN Centre released the following statement.

Statement of concern regarding the 11 year prison sentence imposed on Liu Hui 
Independent Chinese PEN is seriously concerned that Liu Hui has been punished because of his connection to Liu Xiaobo. Liu Hui is the younger brother of Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned author, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, former president and current honorary president of Independent Chinese Pen Centre, Liu Xiaobo. On June 9, 2013 Huairou District People’s Court in Beijing sentenced Liu Hui to 11 years and deprivation of political rights for two years, and a fine of 20,000 yuan for fraud. Liu Hui immediately filed an appeal.

According to reports, Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia, who has seen both her husband and brother heavily sentenced, criticized the court’s sentencing as “simply political persecution”.  She said that she and her family “have had to bear unimaginable persecution and I have completely despaired of this so-called open country which is supposed to be ruled by law, where I cannot leave my home”. She said that she will definitely appeal on behalf of her brother. Reporters and embassy staff from the United States and 10 European union countries were not permitted to attend the sentencing.

Liu Hui was arrested last April on suspicion of fraud relating to a real estate dispute. He was released on parole in September after police could not find sufficient evidence and the real estate dispute was resolved, but on January 31 this year he was rearrested and charged with the same offence. The indictment charged 43-year-old Liu Hui and co-defendant Zhao Juntian with conspiring to defraud victim Zhang Bing of  3,000,000 yuan in an engineering contract.

Liu Xia has been under house arrest since 2010 when her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and has had no contact with the world since then; she has only been allowed weekly meetings with her family and monthly visits to her imprisoned husband for the last two years. 

The Chinese authorities have often suppressed dissidents by charging them and/or their families with economic offences. Last year dissident writer Li Bifeng was also sentenced to 12 years for “contract fraud” by Mianyang Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan.

In addition, on June 5 the trial of Golmud Qinghai dissident Liu Benqi began in Qinghai Delhi Hercynian Intermediate People’s Court ; Liu Benqi was detained on July 18 last year and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” after he criticized government misconduct online and called for people to travel to Beijing to exercise their citizen’s responsibilities during the 18th CPC National Congress. His wife Liu Ying was arrested last year and sentenced to a labor camp for one year because Liu Benqi contacted a lawyer. Hainan Wenchang County State Security used the excuse of “management issues” to detain the wife of Hainan dissident writer Zheng Youwu on May 31; as Zheng was looking for work in Hangzhou at the time, Hainan Wenchang State Security went there to arrest him and bring him back to Hainan. Independent Chinese PEN member Wang Debang’s wife Tang Hongxiu was detained for more than six hours on June 9 by police officers in Qixing District, Guilin, Guangxi because she had been resisting forced demolitions, police twisted and sprained her arm; the nephew of Tang Hongxiu was also taken into custody after he phoned Wangde Bang to inform him about the forced demolitions.

Independent Chinese Pen condemns all of this illegal harassment of dissident writers and their families, and we call on the Chinese authorities to respect article 35 of China’s Constitution, which guarantees the right of free speech, as well as article 19 of the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Chinese government has signed, and which also guarantees the right to freedom of speech. Chinese PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Liu Xiaobo, and Chinese PEN members, Shi Tao, Yang Tianshui, Zhu Yufu, Zhao Changqing, Du Daobin as well as all other prisoners of conscience, whose only crime is exercising their constitutional rights to free expression, and to cease persecuting the families of dissidents and prisoners of conscience.

PEN International is the oldest human rights organization and international literary organization. ICPC is among its 146 member centers and aims to protect writers’ freedom of expression and freedom to write worldwide. In particular ICPC also advocates for the rights of writers and journalists who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted or harassed in China.