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Large number of detained writers suffering from serious illnesses, lack of medical care

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN continues to be alarmed about the large number of detained writers in China suffering from serious illnesses and lack of appropriate medical care. International PEN is particularly concerned about the thirteen cases of detained writers listed below. International PEN is calling for their immediate and unconditional release on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which China is a signatory.

- Cyber-dissident Guo Qizhen is serving a four-year prison sentence for "inciting subversion". His wife, who is allowed to visit him once every two or three months, brings him medication for a form of gangrene, as prison authorities reportedly refuse to provide it. Guo is dependent on crutches and there are fears that he could lose the use of his leg.

- Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong), convicted to six years in prison for "inciting subversion against the state", suffers from muscular dystrophy, which has been rapidly deteriorating since his detention in September 2006. In mid-March 2009 it was reported that his illness is such that he can no longer write; however, prison authorities have repeatedly denied his requests for medical parole.

- Hada, ethnic Mongolian, sentenced to 15 years in prison for "inciting separatism and espionage", is reportedly suffering from a stomach ulcer and coronary heart disease, and his health is said to have deteriorated significantly in prison.

- Hu Jia is serving a three and a half year sentence in prison for "inciting subversion of state power". He suffers from long-term health problems including cirrhosis of the liver, and there are reports that he is denied access to specialist medical care, and has been barred from receiving family visits since 21 November 2008.

- He Depu, sentenced to eight years in prison for "inciting subversion" is said to be in very poor health, to have lost a great deal of weight, a number of teeth, and to be suffering from a liver complaint. He is in need of vitamins and other medication.

- Wang Rongqing is serving a six-year prison sentence for "subversion of state power". In early January 2009 Wang's family reported that he was in poor health, and only able to walk with the use of crutches.

- Kong Youping, sentenced to 10 years in prison for 'subverting state power' is said to be suffering from high blood pressure and deteriorating eyesight.

- Xu Wei, sentenced to 10 years in prison for "subversion", has reportedly developed a mental illness while in prison.

- Xu Zerong, serving an 11-and-a-half year sentence for leaking state secrets is said to suffer from high blood pressure and other serious health conditions.

- Yang Maodong (aka Guo Feixiong), sentenced to five years in prison for his dissident writings and civil rights activism is said to be in poor health as a result of ill-treatment in prison.

- Yang Tongyan (aka Yang Tianshui), sentenced to 12 years in prison for subversion, suffers from diabetes, reportedly worsening in prison.

- Zhang Lin is serving five years in prison for "incitement to subversion". It was reported in May 2006 that he required urgent hospital treatment for a slipped cervical disc that is affecting his central nervous system. Prison medical facilities are said to be inadequate to treat this condition, and he is said to be very weak.

- Zheng Yichun, a diabetic, is sentenced to seven years in prison for "incitement to subversion of state power". It was reported that on 26 May 2008, Yichun had a blood clot, which caused paralysis in part of his face and difficulty in moving his right arm. Zheng was sent to a hospital outside the prison, but was returned after doctors decided that his condition was not serious. Medical facilities in the prison are insufficient to treat his condition and his relatives are therefore said to be requesting his release on medical parole.

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