(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN welcomes the release on medical parole on 5 June 2010 of prominent writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong). However, it is deeply troubled by reports that he is now in a critical condition in hospital, requiring intensive care and dependent on a ventilator. International PEN considers Zhang Jianhong to be convicted in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which China is a signatory. It therefore continues to call for all charges against Zhang Jianhong to be dropped, and pending this, appeals to the Chinese government to abide by its obligations to provide Zhang Jianhong with all necessary medical care immediately.
According to International PEN's information, Zhang has been diagnosed with muscle atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system, and his condition rapidly deteriorated in prison. He was held in Zhejiang Provincial Prison Hospital, Hangzhou, eastern China, since October 2007 but he is now dependent on a life support machine and requires intensive care. Zhang is unable to speak or write. Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) reports that, according to Zhang's doctors, he is likely to remain dependent on the ventilator for the rest of his life, but that he might regain the use of his hands with rehabilitation treatment. The cost for keeping Zhang in intensive care is about 500 to US$600 a day, money that his family does not have. Zhang is 52 years old.
A prominent poet, playwright and author, Zhang was arrested in September 2006 and sentenced in March 2007 to six years in prison for writing articles critical of the government. Zhang started publishing his poems in the 1980s, and was previously imprisoned from 1989-1991 for his pro-democracy activities. In August 2005, he founded the literary website "Aiqinhai", of which he was editor-in-chief. The website was banned by the authorities in 2006. Before his 2006 incarceration, he was a regular contributor to the overseas Chinese sites Boxun ( http://www.boxun.com/ ) and "The Epoch Times" ( http://www.epochtimes.com/ ). Zhang was released by the Chinese authorities on medical parole on 5 June 2010, after spending almost four years in prison. Repeated requests for medical parole had previously been denied, and his health is now critical.
Minimum action: send one appeal to the government address below
- Welcoming the release on medical parole of prominent writer Zhang Jianghong, but expressing grave concerns that he is said to be in a critical condition in hospital and dependent on a ventilator;
- Calling for all charges against Zhang Jianhong to be dropped, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which China is a signatory, and pending this, to provide Zhang Jianhong with all necessary medical care immediately.
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People's Republic of China
Please note that fax numbers are no longer available for the Chinese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for China in your country to forward your appeals.
Further Action: write a similar appeal to the Chinese Ambassador in your country asking him/her to comment on your concerns.
Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 15 July 2010.
Below are some of Zhang Jianhong's poems, translated into English by Yu Zhang of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC).
China_Zhang_Jianhong_poems.doc (33 KB)