U.S. Writers Protest Imprisonment of Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo

Posted on December 31, 2009

In New York today Edward Albee, E.L. Doctorow and many other writers rallied to demand the release of dissident Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo. The writers gathered in front of the New York Public Library for the protest. Liu has been sentenced to 11 years in prison on the charges of "subversion." Bloomberg reports:

"Any time a country imprisons its creative people, you know that's a country that's got to change," Albee, 81, said in an interview before the New York demonstration. The rally was organized by the PEN American Center, an international human- rights group that defends writers around the world. Anthony Appiah, the center's president and a Princeton University philosophy professor, expressed outrage at Liu's sentence and said the group would lobby for his release.

"We are proud to stand here in solidarity with our fellow writer and with his family," Appiah said as snow swirled around the steps of the library. Liu, 54, had been held in secret for more than a year before a two-hour trial on Dec. 23. An 11-page verdict was delivered on Christmas.

In addition to the prison sentence, Liu was banned from all political activity for two years. The former literature professor has published essays critical of the Chinese government, particularly its human-rights abuses and crackdown on dissent in foreign journals and on the Internet.

At the rally, writers read from the seven sentences that got Liu thrown in jail. The organizers marched to the Chinese Embassy and delivered a letter of protest. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing has called for Liu's release, as have other civil rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch.

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