#Human Rights
President Hu Jintao

On December 8, 2008, authorities arrested prominent writer and PEN Member Liu Xiaobo after he co-authored Charter 08, a manifesto calling for greater freedoms and democracy in China, which was signed by hundreds citizens from all walks of life.

Liu was formally arrested and charged with "inciting subversion of state power" on June 23, 2009. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison. His case illustrates the lengths the Chinese government will still go to stifle free expression, and the determination of Chinese writers to fight for this most basic right. We stand with them in their struggle.

Take action now to help free Liu Xiaobo and send a message to the Chinese government that words are not a crime.

We, the undersigned, support PEN in its call for the release of Liu Xiaobo, prominent dissident writer, former President and current Board member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, who has been detained since December 8, 2008 for signing Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reforms and human rights. Liu Xiaobo was held at an undisclosed location in Beijing without charge until June 23, 2009, when he formally arrested and charged with “inciting subversion of state power."

Liu Xiaobo is among a large number of dissidents to have been detained or harassed after issuing an open letter calling on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to ratify the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and launching Charter 08. These activities formed part of campaigns across China to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10th), and the Charter has now been signed by more than 8,500 scholars, journalists, freelance writers, and activists. PEN reports that nearly all of the original 300 signatories have since been detained or harassed.

PEN considers Liu Xiaobo to be held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, and therefore in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, as well as Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.

We join PEN in demanding his immediate and unconditional release, and the release of all those currently detained in the People’s Republic of China for the peaceful expression of their opinions.

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The Free Liu Xiaobo petition to President Hu Jintao was written by PEN American Center and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.