Freedom of Expression should be guaranteed in a modern society
Ulysses was banned in America 100 years this year after it was published for a short time and it’s fitting that we cast a light each year on continuing repression of literary expression and honest journalism throughout the world.
We have petitioned in the past on behalf of writers such as Vaclav Havel, Xu Wenli, Aung San Suu Ky, Daniel Pearl, Anna Politkovskaya, and Rael Badwawi, who is still at this writing in a Saudi Arabian prison sentenced to 10 years for merely writing words of dissent.
In 2019 we petitioned on behalf of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two such journalists unjustly held since December in a Myanmar prison for covering the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya sentenced for 14 years, but since released.
Two years ago a Chinese court has sentenced the Swedish poet, publisher and bookseller Gui Minhai to 10 years in prison for “providing intelligence” overseas,
Gui, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen, ran a Hong Kong publishing house that acquired the independent bookstore Causeway Books, popular for gossipy titles about China’s political elite.
He was one of five people associated with the store who disappeared in 2015, in a case that rippled across Hong Kong, prompting fears about China’s growing grip over the city where the publishing industry had long enjoyed freedoms granted under the “one country, two systems” framework.
“We all know despite the government’s changes in charges, the real reason for Gui’s ordeal is that he has published books critical of the Chinese leadership,” said Yaqiu Wang, China researcher for Human Rights Watch.
“Gui appears to have been tried and convicted in secret, denying him any chance of a fair trial,” said Patrick Poon, a China researcher at Amnesty International, calling the verdict “deplorable” and based on unsubstantiated charges.
Michael Caster, a human rights advocate and co-founder of the human rights organization Safeguard Defenders, said: “If you want to understand the extent of human rights abuses perpetrated by China, Gui Minhai’s case is brutally emblematic.”
We along with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch demand his immediate release.