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China 13 May 2005

Reporters Without Borders expresses its support for journalist and poet Liu Hongbin

Extract from a letter sent on 11 May 2005 to the President of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jintao:

"Your Excellency

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières), an independent organisation which works to defend press freedom world-wide, wishes to draw your attention to the plight of journalist and poet, Liu Hongbin, and to ask you to intervene on his behalf to allow the lifting of a ban on visiting China that has just been renewed, on 15 March 2005.

Liu Hongbin has appealed to our organisation for help and we unreservedly support his case which we believe should not be ignored.

The journalist and poet left China soon after the massacres in Tiananmen Square, in 1989, and has since lived in Britain, where he is, among other things, correspondent in London for the Chinese service of Radio France International. He was an activist in democracy movements and often writes about human rights. Because of his stand on these matters, Liu was arrested without warrant and expelled from his native country when he was visiting his sick mother, in 1997.

On his last trip, in October 2004, on which he was accompanied by this three-year-old daughter, he hoped to visit his mother and to receive a poetry prize in Taiwan. It ended with him and his daughter being held for 3 hours in an insalubrious cell in Beijing before being transferred to a hotel. They were held incommunicado for 24 hours. His young daughter, who is asthmatic, suffered numerous insect bites. After harassing him, the Chinese authorities cancelled his double entry journalist’s visa and cut short his stay.

Liu Hongbin has told us about his deep concern for the safety of his family who have remained in China and about the constant harassment that they suffer.

Our organization respectfully asks you to give your full attention to this case, to bring an end to the distress of this man of letters, who wishes to be able to return to China to visit his mother in her convalescence."

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