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Call for action on behalf of imprisoned nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo

1 December 2010

On 10 December 2010 our colleague Liu Xiaobo, former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo is both a cause for celebration and a call to action. It is a reminder that he and more than 40 other writers remain in prison in China; three of them, like Liu, are also PEN members.

Since the announcement of the prize on 8 October 2010, Chinese authorities have tried to undercut the award in every way possible. They have branded Liu a criminal and blocked news reports about the prize; warned foreign governments not to send representatives to the award ceremony; harassed Liu’s supporters, friends, and family; and placed his wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest and prevented her and other family members from travelling to Oslo for the official award ceremony on 10 December 2010. Still, Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xia, and our colleagues at the Independent Chinese PEN Centre are unbowed, and more and more Chinese citizens are seeking ways around the internet firewall to learn more about their Nobel laureate.

This only makes us more determined to celebrate this extraordinary occasion, and more committed to winning Liu’s s release. As the date of the Nobel award ceremony draws close, we are asking all PEN members to help us do both by taking part in at least one of the following actions over the next ten days. For further background, the American PEN website provides an excellent resource page:

This message was delivered in 2006. On December 8, 2008, Liu Xiaobo was arrested in Beijing. More than a year later, on Christmas Day 2009, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his writings.


1. Send a card of congratulations to Liu Xiaobo in prison.

Liu Xiaobo

Jinzhou Prison

Nanshan Road 86

Taihe District, 121013

Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province

P.R. China

2. Send a card of congratulations to Liu Xiaobo in prison.Send letters demanding the immediate and unconditional release of dissident writer Liu Xiaobo and all those detained in China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. Letters should be sent to the Chinese authorities in Beijing as well as the Chinese embassies in your own country – see below for guidance.

3. Elect Liu Xiaobo as an Honorary Member of your Centre and by doing so provide long term support and advocacy for him and his family. For details of the International PEN Honorary Membership scheme, read the PEN WiPC Guide to Defending Writers Under Attack (Part V, pgs 15-20). Please let us know if you do so and we will ensure that your Centre is networked with others working on Liu’s case.

4. Stage a reading and/or write articles for publication in the press to celebrate Liu and his work. Samples of his writings are attached and on the American PEN website: Please remember to let the PEN International office know about any press coverage.

Send appeals to:

His Excellency Hu Jintao

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. 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.

See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country Chinese embassies abroad

For a full profile of Liu Xiaobo click here:

For further information, please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN WiPC, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER. Tel: +44 (0) 2074050338, Fax: +44(0) 2074050339. Email:


International PEN Resolutions

According to the verdict, the seven sentences for which Liu Xiaobo is convicted are:

1) From “Further Questions about Child Slavery in China’s Kilns” (对黑窑童奴案的继续追问,2007):

Since the Communist Party of China (CPC) took power, generations of CPC dictators have cared most about their own power and least about human life.(自从中共掌权以来,中共历代独裁者最在乎的是手中的权力,而最不在乎的就是人的生命。)

2) From “The CPC’s Dictatorial Patriotism” (中共的独裁爱国主义, 2005):

The official patriotism advocated by the CPC dictatorship is a fallacious system of “substituting the party for the country.” The essence of this patriotism is to demand that the people love the dictatorship, the one-party rule, and the dictators. It usurps patriotism in order to inflict disasters on the nation and calamities on the people. (中共独裁政权提倡的官方爱国主义,是‘以党代国’体制的谬论,爱国的实质是要求人民爱独裁政权、爱独裁党、爱独裁者,是盗用爱国主义之名而行祸国殃民之实。)

3) From “The Many Aspects of CPC Dictatorship” (多面的中共独裁)

Thus, all of the tricks used by the CPC are stop-gap measures for the dictators to preserve the last phase of their power and will not be able to support for long this dictatorial edifice that is already showing countless cracks.(中共的这一切手段,都是独裁者维持最后统治的权宜之计,根本无法长久地支撑这座已经出现无数裂痕的独裁大厦。)

4) From “Changing the Regime by Changing Society” (通过改变社会来改变政权, 2006): Changing the Regime by Changing Society (通过改变社会来改变政权 )

5) From “Can it be that the Chinese People Deserve Only ‘Party-Led Democracy’?” ( 难道中国人只配接受“党主民主”? 2006):

For the emergence of a free China, placing hope in the ruler of a “New Deal” is an idea far worse than placing hope in the continuous expansion of the “new force” among the people. ( 自由中国的出现,与其寄希望于统治者的‘新政’,远不如寄希望于民间‘新力量’的不断扩张。) From “The Negative Effects of the Rise of Dictatorship on World Democratization” (独裁崛起对世界民主化的负面效应,2006):

[Nothing was actually quoted from the article] 6 and 7) From Charter 08 (零八宪章),2008):

“One-party monopolization of ruling privileges should be abolished….” ( 取消一党垄断执政特权 ); and

“…to establish China’s federal republic under the structure of democracy and constitutionalism.” (在民主宪政的架构下建立中华联邦共和国)

International PEN Resolutions

Liu Xiaobo: One Letter is Enough, Longing to Escape, A Small Rat in Prison, and Daybreak

Translated by Jeffrey Yang, recipient of the 2009 PEN/Osterweil Award for Poetry. "One Letter is Enough," "Longing to Escape," "A Small Rat in Prison," and "Daybreak" are new poems from Liu Xiaobo, who received the 2009 PEN/ Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. They appear in PEN America 11: Make Believe.

One Letter Is Enough

for Xia

one letter is enough

for me to transcend and face

you to speak

as the wind blows past

the night

uses its own blood

to write a secret verse

that reminds me each

word is the last word

the ice in your body

melts into a myth of fire

in the eyes of the executioner

fury turns to stone

two sets of iron rails

unexpectedly overlap

moths flap toward lamp

light, an eternal sign

that traces your shadow

8. 1. 2000

Longing to Escape

for my wife

abandon the imagined martyrs

I long to lie at your feet, besides

being tied to death this is

my one duty

when the heart’s mirror-

clear, an enduring happiness

your toes will not break

a cat closes in behind

you, I want to shoo him away

as he turns his head, extends

a sharp claw toward me

deep within his blue eyes

there seems to be a prison

if I blindly step out

of with even the slightest

step I’d turn into a fish

8. 12. 1999

A Small Rat in Prison

for Little Xia

a small rat passes through the iron bars

paces back and forth on the window ledge

the peeling walls are watching him

the blood-filled mosquitoes are watching him

he even draws the moon from the sky, silver

shadow casts down

beauty, as if in flight

a very gentryman the rat tonight

doesn’t eat nor drink nor grind his teeth

as he stares with his sly bright eyes

strolling in the moonlight

5. 26. 1999


for Xia

over the tall ashen wall, between

the sound of vegetables being chopped

daybreak’s bound, severed,

dissipated by a paralysis of spirit

what is the difference

between the light and the darkness

that seems to surface through my eyes’

apertures, from my seat of rust

I can’t tell if it’s the glint of chains

in the cell, or the god of nature

behind the wall

daily dissidence

makes the arrogant

sun stunned to no end

daybreak a vast emptiness

you in a far place

with nights of love stored away

6. 30. 1997

Copyright © 2009 by Liu Xiaobo. English translation copyright © 2009 by Jeffery Yang. All rights reserved.

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