Human Rights: letter to Xi Jinping for arrested Chinese writers
by Paul Wang

Signatories include: Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, JM Coetzee. The memory of Liu Xiaobo, sentenced to 11 years in prison; his wife Liu Xia, under house arrest; Academician Ilham Tohti, sentenced to life imprisonment for his criticism of Beijing's policy towards the Uighurs.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - More than 100 authors from around the world have signed a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping asking him to stop violations against the writers of his country on the World Day for Human Rights, which is celebrated today.

Signatories include Salman Rushdie, the Indian writer over whom hangs a fatwa death sentence; Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and environmentalist; South African Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee.

In the letter they remember their colleague Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Laureate, who was sentenced to 11 years for "subversion", having written some articles on democracy.

The signatories also recall that Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest. Another cited personality is the academic Ilham Tohti, sentenced to life imprisonment for "separatism" having dared to question Beijing’s violent policy towards the Uighur minority in Xinjiang.

The letter denounces that more than a dozen Chinese writers, independent members of the organization Pen Centre, are at present in prison or persecuted. "The enforced silence of these friends and colleagues - the report says - is deafening, and the disappearance of their voices has left a world worse off for this egregious injustice and loss".

Since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, there has been a sharp crack down in China on dissidents, writers, journalists, activists, academics and Human Rights lawyers.