Interesting story today on NPR about Yang Tongyan, the imprisoned Chinese writer who was awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. With the Beijing Olympics just around the corner, the timing of this particular award to this particular writer is not necessarily a coincidence. It’s yet another way to shine a light on China’s abhorrent human rights practices.
Larry Siems, the director of the PEN American Center had this to say:
“Certainly, the Beijing Olympics have us all thinking about the situation in China, and I think that what’s important is that in inviting the Olympics, the Chinese government really invited exactly this kind of attention. It made very clear promises about its intentions to expand and protect press freedom in particular and freedom of expression in general. Here we are 100 days now before the Olympic opening ceremonies, and there are 39 writers and journalists in prison in China in violation of their right to freedom of expression.”
Yang is serving a 12-year sentence for posting anti-Chinese government articles online. Listen to the entire interview, “Chinese Dissident Honored for Writings,” and read “Jailed Chinese Writer to Receive PEN Award” in the Washington Post.