PEN Rally for Liu Xiaobo on New Year’s Eve

I received this email from PEN and felt compelled to share it with you:

Dear Friends,

As you have heard, the Chinese government has sentenced our colleague Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison in China.

Tomorrow’s press event/rally to protest the conviction of Liu Xiaobo in China will take place ON THE FRONT STEPS OF THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, 42nd Street at 5th Avenue, at 11:00 a.m.

We believe this is both a good way to underscore PEN’s commitment to this case and to ring in a year that marks the 50th anniversary of PEN’s organized efforts to defend imprisoned and persecuted writers around the world.

Please join us for this important show of solidarity.

The event will take place at 11 a.m. at a convenient midtown Manhattan location—we will e-mail final details tomorrow. We will gather at the location at 10:45 a.m., and we will have posters of Liu Xiaobo available for all PEN Members to hold during the event, which will include very short readings from Liu’s work and statements by Anthony Appiah and other PEN board members.

More details on the program appear below. Can you please let us know as soon as possible if you can join us for this event? Please RSVP to [email protected], and plan on arriving at 10:45 a.m. to gather together. If you are not in New York City, and would like to hold an event in your area, please contact us for information and materials.

Many thanks, and all best wishes for the New Year,

K. Anthony Appiah
Steve Isenberg
Larry Siems

This Thursday, New Year’s Eve, PEN will hold an outdoor press event in midtown Manhattan to demand the release of Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced on Christmas Day to 11 years in prison for his writings in China.

The press event will feature several prominent Members of PEN American Center reading short passages from Liu’s work. The event begins promptly at 11 a.m. and will last about ½ hour.

The event rings in a year that marks the 50th anniversary of PEN’s activism on behalf of writers who are jailed or face persecution because of their work. Joseph Brodsky, Wole Soyinka, Vaclav Havel, Jose Revueltas, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Alicia Portnoy, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, and Taslima Nasreen, are just a few of the hundreds of writers PEN has freed or defended over the years.

There are currently almost 1,000 writers on PEN’s list of writers and journalists in danger because of their work. Leading the list is Liu Xiaobo, one of China’s most prominent writers and a past president and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, which is doing on-the-ground PEN advocacy in China. Liu was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” for co-authoring “Charter 08,” a petition calling for political and human rights reforms in China, and for seven sentences in five articles he published on the internet that are critical of Chinese authorities.

PEN American Center President Kwame Anthony Appiah called his 11-year sentence “a scandal” and “a mockery,” and PEN Members around the world have vowed to step up efforts to win his release.

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