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Banned women writers continue to denounce injustices, risking arrest and lengthy imprisonment, says WiPC

(WiPC/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 4 March 2008 WiPC press release:

Women Writing Under Surveillance in China

Five months exactly before the opening of the Beijing Olympics on 8 August 2008, International PEN is marking International Women's Day (8 March) by celebrating the work of three women writers under threat in China - Zeng Jinyan, Tsering Woeser and Li Jianhong. Whilst not actually detained, they are among the many lesser-known dissidents suffering wide-ranging forms of harassment, including brief detentions, periods of house arrest, travel restrictions, loss of work, denial of access to information and communications, heavy surveillance and censorship.

Each of these women is continuing to write in the face of great personal risk. They use the Internet to tell their own stories and those of others living through similar injustices in China. Although they are all banned within China itself, they strive to keep their voices heard, using what freedom remains to them to seek out overseas Chinese websites, publishers, and foreign news outlets. Amidst signs of an apparent crackdown on dissent as the Olympic Games approach, aimed at silencing those who may attempt to use the Games as an opportunity to raise criticism of the authorities, there are fears that all three women are at increasing risk of arrest and lengthy imprisonment.

International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee is therefore calling upon its members to protest the restrictions imposed on Zeng Jinyan, Tsering Woeser and Li Jianhong, and demand that they be allowed to live and work freely, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Zeng Jinyan
Twenty-four year-old Zeng Jinyan is a Chinese human rights activist and internet writer. She was placed under house arrest on 27 December 2007 following the arrest of her husband, Hu Jia, at their shared flat in the ironically-named BoBo Freedom City, a Beijing suburb close to the site of the Olympic stadium. Hu Jia is prominent environmentalist and AIDS activist, accused of inciting subversion against the Chinese government. Their baby daughter Qianci, born in November 2007, was barely a month old at the time of her father's arrest. (. . . )

Tsering Woeser
(. . . ) Woeser's troubles began with her second book Xizang Biji (Notes on Tibet), a collection of short stories and prose published in Guanzhou in January 2003. The book was a bestseller in China, and was banned in September of that year for revealing opinions 'harmful to the unification and solidarity of our nation'. In June 2004 she was dismissed from her position at the Tibet Autonomous Region Literature Association, and left Lhasa for Beijing in order to 'follow her conscience as a writer'. She continues to write from a small Beijing apartment where she lives with her husband, writer Wang Lixiong, posting poetry and essays on Tibetan culture on the Internet and publishing her books in Taiwan. In mainland China her books are banned, her two web-logs have been shut down, she is unemployed and her movements are sometimes restricted. Yet she has become widely known as one of China's most respected writers on Tibet.

Li Jianhong
(. . . ) She has been subject to intense police harassment since January 2005 for her critical writings published online and peaceful dissident activities. She has suffered numerous brief detentions and interrogations, repeated periods of house arrest, and several dismissals from posts of employment. She is a member of Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), and was a recipient of the 2007 Lin Zhao Memorial Award but was prevented from collecting the award. For an account of the crackdown on the awards dinner hosted by the ICPC at which she was to be honoured, see the following link: http://pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/1860/prmID/172

(. . . )

To read the full text version of this press release, see: http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/1917

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