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Dissident Chinese poet Li Bifeng sentenced to 12 years

(WiPC/IFEX) - 23 November 2012 - The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International protests the harsh sentence handed down to Chinese activist, novelist and poet Li Bifeng on 19 November 2012. He was sentenced on fraud charges, although it is widely believed that the charges are without foundation and politically motivated. PEN considers Li Bifeng to be held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and Article 35 of the Chinese constitution, both protecting the right to freedom of expression, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

According to PEN's information, leading Sichuan activist Li Bifeng, aged 48, was arrested on 12 September 2011 after being summoned for questioning by police in Mianyang city, Sichuan province, for alleged "economic crimes". Vaguely worded economic crimes are increasingly used to suppress political dissent in China, and those targeted include prominent Chinese artist and social critic Ai Weiwei. Li Bifeng was convicted of alleged 'contract fraud' by the Shehong County People's Court, Sichuan province, on 19 November 2012 and handed down a 12-year prison sentence. He is believed to be targeted for his peaceful political activism, in particular his links with exiled Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, who is a close friend of Li's and fled China two months before Li's arrest.

Li Bifeng is a prolific poet and novelist as well as a well-known dissident, who has spent a total of over 12 years in prison since 1990 for his activism and critical writings. He served a five-year sentence for taking part in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, followed by a seven-year jail term from 1998-2005 for reporting on a workers' protest in the Sichuan city of Mianyang in 1998. While in prison, Li produced some poetry and kept a diary. Some of his work can be found here.

Send appeals:

Protesting the harsh sentence handed down to dissident poet Li Bifeng, on charges which are widely considered to be politically motivated;

Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Li Bifeng, in accordance with China's national and international obligations on freedom of expression.

Appeals to:

The State Council General Office
HU Jintao Guojia Zhuxi
2 Fuyoujie
Beijingshi 100017
People's Republic of China
Email: [email protected]

WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Beijingshi 100017
People's Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 65961109

Please note that there are no fax numbers for all 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.

You may find it easier to write to the Chinese ambassador in your own country asking him or her to forward your appeal. Most embassies are obliged to forward such appeals to the relevant officials in the country..

See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country: Chinese embassies abroad.

Messages of solidarity may be sent to Li Bifeng at: [email protected]

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