China fails to deliver: an Olympic-Year Report Card on Free Expression from PEN



    NEW YORK, TORONTO, STOCKHOLM, July 8 /CNW/ - In a distressing report
released today, three International PEN centres including PEN CANADA give
China a failing grade on free expression one month before the opening of the
Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008.
    The report, Failing to Deliver: An Olympic-Year Report Card on Free
Expression in China finds that the climate for freedom of expression in China
has measurably deteriorated over the past year, in full view of the
international community.
    In December 2007, PEN Canada, American PEN Canada, and the Independent
Chinese PEN Center were following the cases of 40 writers and journalists
imprisoned in China. Today, after numerous additional detentions and a few
releases, PEN is following the cases of 51 writers, 44 of whom are still in
prison.
    "If China had fulfilled its pledges to protect and expand human rights in
the run-up to the Olympics, it could now be poised to take a major step
forward on the international stage," said Larry Siems, Director of the Freedom
to Write and International Programs of PEN American Center. "Instead, as this
report makes clear, the world has witnessed a grinding, relentless campaign to
jail or silence prominent dissident voices and new and brazen efforts to
control domestic and international press."
    "It is not too late," said Marian Botsford Fraser of PEN Canada. "There's
still time for China to make good on the commitments it offered its own
citizens and the international community when it bid to host the Olympics.
With one month before the Opening Ceremonies, we are asking the world to join
us in holding the Chinese government to its pledges."

    According to the report, available at
http://www.pencanada.ca/media/One_month_report-final.pdf :
    
    -  there are more writers and journalists in Chinese prisons than there
       were seven months ago;
    -  dissident writers and journalists not in prison face serious
       restrictions on their movements and on their ability to speak and
       publish freely;
    -  Internet censorship and other laws such as subversion and inciting
       separatism or splittism are regularly used to deny the universally-
       guaranteed right to freedom of expression;
    -  China's promises to allow media to report freely throughout China have
       been undermined by its attempts to manage international coverage from
       Tibet and earthquake-affected areas and by its refusal to extend any
       new protections whatsoever to Chinese journalists.

    The report recommends that the Chinese government:
    -  release all writers and journalists currently imprisoned and stop
       detaining, harassing, and censoring writers and journalists in China;
    -  end Internet censorship, and reform laws used to imprison writers and
       journalists and suppress freedom of expression; and
    -  abide by its pledge that "there will be no restrictions on media
       reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic
       Games."
    

    In addition, the report urges that all nations participating in the
Olympic Games press the Chinese government to act on these recommendations and
secure clear assurances that no Chinese citizens, Chinese or foreign
journalists, athletes or spectators will be detained or otherwise prevented
from expressing their views peacefully during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
    Yu Zhang of the Independent Chinese PEN Center stressed that fostering
respect for basic rights is essential for China's future. "In the end, it is
not by staging a successful Olympic Games, but by honoring these commitments
that China's slogan "One World, One Dream" will become true," Zhang said.

    PEN Canada, American PEN, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center are
among the 145 worldwide centers of International PEN, an organization that
works to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers
everywhere, to fight for freedom of expression, and represent the conscience
of world literature. For the "Failing to Deliver" report and the complete list
of writers, please visit www.pencanada.ca, www.penorg and www.chinesepen.org.




For further information:

For further information: Larry Siems, PEN American Center, (212)
334-1660 ext. 105, lsiems@pen.org; Marian Botsford Fraser, PEN Canada, (416)
938-4204, mbf@pencanada.ca; Yu Zhang, Independent Chinese PEN Center,
+46-8-50022792, wipc@penchinese.net


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