TORONTO, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - Speaking in public for the first time since his
arrival in Canada last week, Jiang Weiping, poet, journalist and former bureau
chief of the Hong Kong daily Wen Hui Bao, said he still believed the media
"has the duty to monitor government actions in a civil society. Unfortunately
under the current political system of China, this is a high risk job." Jiang
added that his "pursuit for freedom of the press has not been shaken, neither
has my goal to construct democracy and rule of law in China been changed."
After thanking organizations and people who had kept international attention
focused on his case and helped him travel to Canada after a long prison
sentence on charges of subversion, Jiang added, "We all have to continue with
our efforts in seeking further progress in China."
Jiang spoke at a PEN Canada press conference in downtown Toronto. During
her introductory remarks, Nelofer Pazira, president of PEN Canada, praised the
moral courage he had shown throughout his ordeal. "It is easy to talk about
speaking truth to power," she said, "but most of us fall silent when power
replies. The heavy price Mr. Jiang has paid for refusing to toe the line drawn
by China's all-pervading censors is a stark reminder of how dangerous and
difficult free speech can become when the state is determined to intimidate
Pazira added that more than 40 writers and journalists are still being
detained by the People's Republic of China, making it the largest jailer of
writers worldwide. She said the international community's message to the PRC
was simple, and had been eloquently stated in Charter 08, a manifesto of
democratic reforms which more than 7,000 Chinese citizens have recently
endorsed: "We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes."
Jiang Weiping has been an Honorary Member of PEN Canada since 2003. He
was awarded the inaugural One Humanity award in 2006. Eight of PEN Canada's
other honorary members are currently serving prison sentences in China.
For further information:
For further information: Brendan de Caires, bdecaires@pencanada, tel.
(416) 703-8448 x 21