PEN Sweden and Others Appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping for the Release of Imprisoned Gui Minhai the Swedish Writer and Publisher

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Anna Mattsson, Writer and Board Member of PEN Sweden with the letter addressed to the Chinese President Xi Jinping

PEN Sweden, Gothenburg Book Fair, Writers’ Centre West, and Gothenburg Literature House appealed to the Chinese President Xi Jinping for the release of Gui Minhai. Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen of Chinese origin, and he is a writer and publisher. He is currently in Chinese custody without trial or access to legal counsel. In an open letter addressed to the Chinese President Xi Jinping, they unequivocally condemned the arrest of Gui Minhai, and asked for the intervention of the top Chinese political executive.

PEN is an abbreviation for Poets, Essayists and Novelists. PEN is a non-governmental organization started with a primary objective is to defend freedom of expression worldwide. Today it acts as the voice on behalf writers who are harassed or imprisoned or sometimes killed for their expression. The letter addressed to the Chinese President President Xi Jinping says:

“Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned wish to express our serious concern about the fate of Swedish citizen, writer and publisher, Gui Minhai.

Gui Minhai was taken from his holiday home in Thailand, by a group of plainclothed Chinese agents, on October 17, 2015. His whereabouts were unknown for a long time after his disappearance. In January 2016, the Chinese authorities admitted to having detained Gui Minhai, allegedly for a traffic accident, but he was neither charged or sentenced.

In October 2017 Gui Minhai was released from prison, but three months later, on 20 January 2017, he was once more detained. This time he was arrested while he was accompanied by two Swedish diplomats on a train to Beijing to undergo a medical examination. After two weeks, a spokesperson from the Chinese Foreign Ministry declared that Gui Minhai was subjected to “criminal coercive measures” without giving any further details.

To date, Gui Minhari has reportedly not been granted access to legal counsel and he has not been brought to trial.

We strongly condemn the Chinese authorities’ treatment of Gui Minhai. It is a clear breach of Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which China is a signatory.

We, the undersigned, call on Your Excellency for the immediate and unconditional release of Gui Minhai.

Furthermore, we urge that he be granted access to adequate health care, as necessary, as well as access to his family and a lawyer of his own choosing, while he remains in detention.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Mattsson, Writer, Board Member of PEN Sweden

Kristin Bjarnadottir, Chairman of Writers’ Centre West

Frida Edman, Director of Gothenburg Book Fair

Sofia Gräsberg, Director of Gothenburg Literature House”