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Writer and advocate released from prison

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN welcomes the release of dissident writer, pro-democracy advocate and member of Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) Zhang Lin on 12 August 2009. Zhang Lin was sentenced on 'incitement to subversion' charges to serve five years in prison, and was due to be freed in February 2010. International PEN, however, remains alarmed about the dire state of freedom of expression in China, and reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which China is a signatory.

Zhang Lin, now aged 46, spent four years and six and half months imprisoned, and was released on 12 August due to his good conduct during Reeducation Through Labour.

The official indictment issued by the Bengbu authorities stated that he was arrested because of a number of 'subversive' articles he had written and subsequently posted on the Internet between August 2003 and January 2005. The lyrics of a punk rock song by the popular Chinese group Pangu, which he quoted in an essay entitled 'Pangu - The Hysterical Ravings of the Chinese People', are said to form part of the evidence against him. The stanzas, which he reportedly quoted, are translated as follows: 'The Yellow River should run dry, this society should collapse, this system should be destroyed, this race should become extinct, this country should perish'.

During his imprisonment Zhang Lin reportedly suffered harsh treatment, including long hours of forced labour, restricted access to correspondence with his wife, and denial of news and writing materials.

Zhang Lin has been repeatedly imprisoned in the past for his political activities.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Please send appeals to authorities:
- welcoming the early release of Zhang Lin.
- calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression in China, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which China is a signatory.


APPEALS TO:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People's Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Mr. Meng Jianzhu
Minister of the Public Security
East Chang'an Avenue 14
100741 Beijing
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.

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for China in your country if possible.

Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 20 September 2009.
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