5 October 1998


RSF appeal to British PM on the occasion of his official visit to China; special concern for Gao Yu, Liu Xiaobo and Liu Jingsheng

Incident details

Gao Yu, Liu Xiaobo, Liu Jingsheng



(RSF/IFEX) - On 5 October 1998, RSF released this open letter to British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the occasion of his official visit to China:

**For background to the detention of Gao Yu, see IFEX alerts and press
releases of 30 and 22 June 1998 and others; for Liu Xiaobo, see alerts of 5
June 1998, 28 October 1997 and others; and for Liu Jingsheng, see alerts of
21 April 1998 and 28 October 1997**

On 5 October you are due to go to the People's Republic of China for a
six-day official visit. Reporters Sans Frontières, an international
organisation for the defence of press freedom, wishes to take this
opportunity to draw your attention to the plight of 13 journalists currently
imprisoned in China simply for attempting to practise their
profession. They include Gao Yu, whose health is giving cause for great
concern, critic Liu Xiaobo, and Liu Jingsheng.

Gao Yu, aged 54, was arrested in October 1993 and sentenced to six years in
jail for "disclosing state secrets." She is very ill at the moment: she
frequently loses consciousness and her limbs, particularly her hands, are
swollen because of serious cardiac and circulation problems. Not only is she
not receiving appropriate medical treatment; the Chinese authorities have
even tried to blackmail her by saying she can only be admitted to hospital
if she agrees to sign a confession.

Liu Xiaobo, aged 40, was sentenced to three years' "re-education through
work" on 9 October 1996 after signing a petition calling for the Chinese
government to start talks with the Dalai Lama and pointing out the
principles of freedom of expression, which is theoretically guaranteed by
the Chinese constitution. In August 1996 Liu Xiaobo, who has worked for
various magazines, particularly in Hong Kong, had made a public statement
about press reforms. Reports in 1998 state that he is in ill health.

Liu Jingsheng was arrested on 28 May 1992 and sentenced to 15 years in
prison. Among other charges, he was accused of being on the editorial board
of an underground magazine called "Freedom Forum". Liu Jingsheng is
currently being held in Beijing's Number 2 prison and is reported to be in
poor health.

Reporters Sans Frontières is aware of the United Kingdom's excellent record
on human rights so we have no doubt that you will agree to speak to the
Chinese authorities, and particularly President Jiang Zemin, on behalf of
Gao Yu, Liu Xiaobo and Liu Jingsheng, and ask for them to be released. These
three journalists are in prison solely for doing their
work or for peacefully using their right to freedom of expression. We are
especially concerned about the case of Gao Yu because she is seriously ill
and in urgent need of proper hospital treatment. We hope that you will pay
particular attention to her plight.

We thank you in advance for any steps you may be able to take to assist the
journalists imprisoned in China.


Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris, France
rsf (@) rsf.org

Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
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