Condemning sentencing of Chinese dissident Tie Liu

Monday, March 2, 2015
His Excellency Luo Zhaohui Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Canada Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Canada 515 St. Patrick Street Ottawa, ON K1N 5H3 Dear Ambassador, I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world. CJFE is deeply troubled by the recent conviction of 81-year-old dissident writer Tie Liu, who received a suspended two-and-a-half year jail sentence on February 25 after pleading guilty to a charge of "illegal business activity" in Chengdu, China. Tie will only be forced to serve prison time if he commits another crime during the period of the suspended sentence. One of the oldest dissidents in China, Tie Liu (real name Huang Zerong) has spent 23 years in re-education camps for criticizing former leader Mao Zedong and the Communist party, and continues to write and publish essays criticizing the Chinese government. His magazine, Small Scars from the Past, published essays criticizing Liu Yunshan, a member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, which oversees propaganda. The essay was then published on a U.S.-based Chinese news website covering human rights issues in China. Tie's sentence was suspended until 2019, and while his poor health has kept him from going to prison, he is also facing a fine of $4,800 USD. Tie's conviction is part of a broader pattern of crushing dissent and erasing the collective memory of atrocities perpetrated by Mao's repressive regime. Financial charges, like that which Tie has been convicted of, are frequently used as a catchall to ensnare government critics. China was named by the Committee to Protect Journalists as the world's worst jailer of journalists in 2014. The estimated 44 journalists in Chinese jails are a jump from 32 the previous year, which shows Beijing’s continued efforts to crack down on politically contentious writers. CJFE strongly condemns the prosecution and conviction of Tie Liu. We urge the Chinese authorities to immediately cease in their attempts to suppress dissent and tighten control of the media and the Internet. We also encourage the Chinese government to release all journalists and free expression advocates unlawfully detained in the country. We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply. Yours sincerely, Arnold Amber, CJFE President Cc: Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques, Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China The Honourable Robert Nicholson, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

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