To the Editors:

Your readers may be interested in the following petition to the Chinese government, signed by more than 3,500 PEN members and supporters in addition to those below. They can visit to add their names and view the complete list of signers.

Larry Siems

Director, Freedom to Write

and International Programs

PEN American Center, New York City


On August 8, 2007, China launched a publicity campaign proclaiming “We Are Ready” to host the Olympic Games in August 2008. We, the undersigned members and supporters of PEN American Center, are writing to ask you to show the world that China is in fact ready—not just to stage the Olympics, but to acknowledge, protect, and celebrate the full rights of its citizens.

PEN believes there are currently forty-four writers and journalists imprisoned in China for exercising their right to speak and write freely, as guaranteed under Chinese and international law. We are concerned that, despite official pledges to respect essential rights in this Olympic year, Chinese authorities continue to harass and detain writers in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

In order to fulfill the promises China made in securing the Olympic Games, and to ensure that the rights of our colleagues are fully protected in your country, we therefore urge you to:

• facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of all writers and journalists currently imprisoned and end the practice of detaining, harassing, and censoring writers and journalists in China;

• abide by China’s pledge that “there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games”; and

• end Internet censorship and reform laws that are used to imprison writers and journalists and suppress the free exchange of information and ideas on the Internet.