PEN calls for release of Chinese dissident

The New York Times is reporting on the calls from PEN and others urging the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo, pictured left, “a 53-year-old literary critic who has directed the Independent Chinese PEN Center, a group of writers who advocate for broader free speech." He "was taken by security officers from his home on the night of Dec. 8 and has not been heard from since.”

More than 160 prominent writers, scholars and human rights advocates outside mainland China have signed an open letter to President Hu Jintao asking him to release.... Liu Xiaobo—one of the driving forces behind a bold manifesto demanding democratic reforms that has received worldwide attention.

Among the writers signing the letter are three Nobel laureates in literature—the South African novelist Nadine Gordimer, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney and Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian novelist—as well as other writers who regularly champion freedom of expression, including the Italian novelist Umberto Eco and Salman Rushdie.

You can read the letter here, and you can use this template provided by PEN to send your own letter to the Chinese president.

You can also now listen to the "Voices Against Torture" event from last week, and read writings on the subject from panelists Scott Horton, Elisa Massimino, Anouar Benmalek, and Jane Mayer.

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