Freedom for Liu Xiaobo
More than 600 signatories from around the world, including the authors Wolf Biermann, Breyten Breytenbach, J. M. Coetzee, Dave Eggers, Elfriede Jelinek, Herta Müller, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth and Mario Vargas Llosa, supported the internationale literaturfestival berlin and Authors for Peace in calling for the immediate release from prison of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. The appeal included a call to individuals, cultural institutions, media outlets, universities and schools to participate in a worldwide reading of Charter 08 and Liu’s poem ‘You Wait for Me with Dust’ (Asia Literary Review) on March 20th 2011.
The internationales literaturfestival berlin and Authors for Peace appealed for a signing of this letter and a worldwide reading on 20th March 2011 of the ‘Charter 08’ and the poem ‘You wait for me with Dust’ by Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2010.
Liu Xiaobo is currently the world’s only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize still held in detention. In 2009, after co-authoring ‘Charter 08’, a manifesto calling for greater freedoms and democracy in China, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to eleven years in prison on a spurious charge of “inciting subversion of state power”. His continued imprisonment is a basic breach of human rights, and also a violation of China’s own constitution where Article 35 states that “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”.
1936 was the last time neither the winner, German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, nor any of his family members, could go to Oslo to collect the Nobel Peace Prize. They were all barred from leaving Nazi Germany. This historical comparison should disturb the Chinese government.
China has made extraordinary economic progress over the last few decades. The country is now the world’s second largest economy, and a powerful player on the global stage. China is rightly proud of these achievements, but it should also value democracy.
The preamble to ‘Charter 08’ states that “Chinese citizens are becoming increasingly aware that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values shared by all humankind, and that democracy, republicanism, and constitutional government make up the basic institutional framework of modern politics. A “modernization” bereft of these universal values and this basic political framework is a disastrous process that deprives people of their rights, rots away their humanity, and destroys their dignity. Where is China headed in the 21st century? Will it continue with this “modernization” under authoritarian rule, or will it endorse universal values, join the mainstream civilization, and build a democratic form of government?” (i)
Now is China’s chance to take a magnanimous step towards democracy. China can do this immediately – by showing pride that one of its citizens, Liu Xiaobo, has received the world’s greatest award in recognition of a struggle to uphold human rights. This award should be an honour for China, too.
In 2005, Liu Xiaobo wrote: “Didn't they say that China was in a golden moment of historical peak, and that the state of human rights is at the very best? Didn't they say that the present government wants to treat "the people as the foundation" in order to build a "harmonious society"? Then why is the government which has built the golden and almighty China so panicky? Why in this "harmonious society" in which "the people are the foundation" are I and other dissidents treated like trash to be stomped upon? Why must the "harmonious society" be constructed only with police officers posted at
It does not befit a great country to denounce the Nobel Peace Prize, expand the restrictive security net around a peace laureate to include his friends and relatives, and persuade foreign diplomats to boycott the prize ceremony. Since the prize announcement, there has been no let-up in the harassment of Liu’s family and supporters, and all others attempting free speech activities in China. Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest. Several Chinese human rights activists have been prevented from leaving the country in case they go to Oslo, and Liu’s brothers are pessimistic about their chances of being able to travel in his place.
Chinese citizens make up one fifth of the world’s population. Liu Xiaobo’s case is not the story of one man: he is a symbol of the aspirations and treatment of 1.3 billion people.
The call for worldwide readings of ‘Charter 08’, and Liu Xiaobo’s poem ‘You Wait for me with Dust’, signify support for the campaigner, and a call for his release from prison.
A courageous activist all his life, Liu Xiaobo once wrote that “in a dictatorial country, open letters signed by individuals or groups form an important method for the civilians to resist dictatorship and fight for freedom.” (iii) And so we, citizens of the world, sign this appeal – some with our names, and many, many more with our voices, which has been raised on 20th March 2011 to read Liu’s words – and show solidarity with him, and others in China, who are not free to say what they want.
We will continue to speak up until there is an end to the unjust incarceration of Liu Xiaobo, and others like him.
To sign this appeal, please reply to the contact form below, giving the following information:
Data Protection: Your personal data will only be used for the purpose of this appeal. With the publication of this appeal in the press and the internet, your name will appear as a signatory.
Click here to see the list of people who have signed the appeal so far.
A full list of signatories is published on the website of the internationales literaturfestival berlin, too.
i Extract from Charter 08, translated from the Chinese by Human Rights in China
ii Extract from If the policemen are posted outside my door, by Liu Xiaobo
iii Extract from Me and the Internet, by Liu Xiaobo
There were readings in more than 70 towns and cities on all continents and broadcasts via radio stations:
Sydney: PEN Center, Natasha Ferguson; Alice Springs: NT Writers’
Center, Michael Giacometti; Melbourne: Jenny Niven | Austria Vienna:
Museumquartier Wien, Angelika Burgsteiner; Elfriede Jelinek; Freies
Radio Österreich; Langenlois: Literadio, Gerhard Ruiss | Belgium
Brussels: PEN Center, Hilde Ketelaar; International PEN Writers in
Prison Committee Conference, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman | Bosnia and
Herzegovina Sarajevo: PEN Center, Ferida Durakovic | Canada Kitchener:
Herminio Schmidt; Montreal: Carolyn Marie Souaid & Endre Farkas |
China Hong Kong: Independent Chinese PEN Center; Human Rights in China |
Germany Berlin: international literature festival berlin, Martin
Gropius Bau; PEN Zentrum & Landesbibliothek Berlin, Herbert
Wiesner; Amt für Weiterbildung, Elisabeth Gnausch; Z-Bar Berlin, Günter
Steinmeyer; Galerie Oqbo, Frank Eltner; Kulturverein Prenzlauer Berg
e.V.: ZENTRUM danziger50; Bielefeld: Theater Bielefeld, Christine Post;
Brandenburg a/d Havel: event-theater e.V. ; Internetradio www.plus.am
| WESTBRANDENBURG at NACHRICHTEN Bremen: Amnesty International Bremen;
Calw: Bibliothek Calw, Sandra Gnädinger; Cologne: Radio WDR 5,
Aktuelle Kultur Hörfunk; Göppingen: Volkshochschule Göppingen, Tina
Stroheker; Dessau: Dessauer Autoren- und Literaturkreis, Regina Elfryda
Braunsdorf; Duisburg: Amnesty International Duisburg &
Stadtbibliothek Duisburg, Petra Dobler-Wahl; Emmendingen:
UNESCO-Projektschule, Monika Bresch; Göttingen: Ulrich Delius;
Greifswald: Sozio-kulturelles Zentrum St. Spiritus, Brigitte Schöpf;
Hamburg: Ev.-Lutherischen Kirchengemeinde St. Gertrud, Regula Venske;
Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V., Helmut Steckel; Hamburger Mariendom,
Ulla Hahn; Amnesty International Hamburg, Anne Kürbs; YOP Year of
Performance, Rotraut de Neve, Heidrun Vielhauer; Forum Book Art;
Heidelberg: UNESCO-Projektschule, Thomas Gaßner; Buchhandlung
Himmelheber, Gudula Dinkelbach; Konstanz: Volkshochschule
Konstanz-Singen & Stadttheater Konstanz, Dorothee Jacobs-Krahnen;
Leipzig: Leipziger Buchmesse, Leipziger Messeradio; Hartwig Bögeholz;
Lübeck: Amnesty International Lübeck, Frauke Kässbohrer; Münich:
Maximilian Dorner; BayernForum der Friedrich Ebert Stiftung &
P.E.N. Freundeskreis, Dirk Sager, Alexandra Herde; München Westend;
Radio Bayern 2, Kulturkritik und Literatur; Münster: Internationales
Studentenzentrum, Monika Walther; Osnabrück: Uni-Radio, Katharina
Opladen; Pforzheim: Stadttheater Pforzheim, Kerstin Peupelmann;
Saarbrücken: Selbständige Ev.-Lutherische Kirche, Amnesty International
Saarbrücken; Saarländisches Künstlerhaus; Landau: Amnesty
International-Hochschulgruppe, Anne Wagner; Schwerin: Helga Schubert;
Tübingen: Amnesty International Tübingen, Carla Schweigert; Radio
Wüsten Welle; Weimar: Nationaltheater Weimar, Sophie-Th. Krempl |
France Paris: Marie Holzman | Great Britain Glasgow: Glasgow University
PEN, Fiona Rintoul; London: International PEN Writers Committee, Cathy
McCann; Edinburgh: Scottish PEN and Writers in Prison Committee;
School of Arts & Creative Industries, Bashabi Fraser; St Andrews:
StAnza Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, Anne C. Clarke |
Hungary Budapest: Imre Vojnits | India Ambaji, Gujarat: Shree Ambaji
Arts College, Vihang A. Naik | Iceland Reykjavík: PEN Center Iceland |
Italy Genoa: Festival Internazionale di Poesia di Genova, Claudio
Pozzani | Japan Ramada Osaka The International Academic Forum, Joseph
Haldane | Macedonia Skopje: PEN Center, Lidija Nikolova | Netherlands
Amsterdam: PEN Center, René Appel; Utrecht: De Vorlesebühne, Bernhard
Christiansen; Het Poëziecircus, Gina van den Berg; City2Cities
Internationale Literatuurdagen, Michaël Stoker; Het Utrechts
Dichtersgilde, Alexis de Roode; Universiteit Utrecht, Toa Maes;
Deventer: Boekenfestival; Amnesty International Utrecht; Venlo: Museum
van Bommel Van Dam, Hanneke Eggels | Nigeria Ibadan: Tade Ipadolea;
Lagos: Jumoke | Portugal Monte do Cerro: Peace Research Centre Tamera,
Institute for Global Peacework, Martin Wienecki | Russia Moscow: Club
of Literary Performance, Sveta Litvak | Senegal Gorée Island: Gorée
Institute, Ibrahima Niang | Slovenia Ljubljana: Radio Student Slovenia,
Ida Hirsenfelder | South Africa Capetown: SA PEN Center, Liesl Jobson;
Margie Orford; James Matthews; Lynne Carneson; Keith Gottschalk;
Gabeba Baderoon; Kelwyn Sole; Ken Barris | Sweden Stockholm: Stockholm
University, Korean Studies, Rinkebybibliothek; Cultural Hall, Gabriel
Jonsson | Switzerland Wassen: Deutsch Schweizer PEN Zentrum, Kristin T.
Schnider; Zürich: Literaturhaus Museumgesellschaft Zürich, Simone
Fischer | Thailand Bangkok: WTF Gallery and Café & Pirogue
Collective | Turkey Istanbul: Sezer Duru | United Arab Emirates Abu
Dhabi: Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, Marianne Kennedy | USA San
Francisco: Bird & Beckett Books, Eric Whittington; Seattle:
PoetsWest, Glenn Evans; New York: PEN America Center, Jakab Orsós;
Human Rights in China; Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara City College,
Chella Courtington; Greenfield, Massachusetts: Poet’s Seat Tower,
Samantha Wood; Rhode Island: Busk Literary Journal, Providence College, Jason Elliott
Liu Xiaobo: You Wait For Me With Dust