On May 3rd, some 200 writers from all over the world called on China to release imprisoned authors and to respect freedom of expression, saying that censorship limits the cultural development of the country.
In a letter made public on the occasion of the International Day for the freedom of the press, these writers have welcomed the growing recognition by Beijing of Chinese artists as writer Mo Yan, who won last year’s Nobel Prize literature.
“We cannot appreciate the achievements of Chinese designers (…) without thinking about the work that we cannot enjoy because of the censorship in the arts, in the media or on the Internet.” China actually ranks 173rd out of 179 countries in the world ranking of press freedom. The control of information is done via media censorship, retaliation against those involved in information and a resurgence of blocking websites and Internet surveillance.
The artists are demanding the release of more than 40 writers and journalists, including Liu Xiaobo, author of a petition calling for democratic reforms and Nobel Peace 2010.
Signatories include other Nobel Peace authors, such as JM Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Wole Soyinka, Tomas Transtromer and Mario Vargas Llosa.
A report attached to the letter, published by PEN International, a literary organization that promotes freedom of expression, press China to stop censoring the Internet, lift travel bans and restrictions against dissidents.
Salman Rushdie, who went into hiding for a decade after death threats leveled against him by the Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini after the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses”, said he heard about “abnormally eloquent” from an Iranian dignitary about internet censorship.
Rushie says, this dignitary mentioned Internet censorship to be “like taking a ladder to prevent birds from landing on the roof.”
About 50,000 people work in China for the “Internet police” search and censor online content deemed offensive, according to PEN International. And “there are more and more people every year who do that,” said Mr. Rushdie. But “even in this case, remove the scale does not prevent birds from landing on the roof,” he said.
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