Testimony for the PEN Centenary Congress， October 2021
編者按：國際筆會是凱瑟琳·艾米·道森·斯科特夫人（Catherine Amy Dawson Scott, ）於1921年在倫敦創立的。首任會長為約翰·高爾斯華綏（John Galsworthy ），早期成員中有約瑟夫·康拉德、蕭伯納和H·G·威爾斯，以後成員中包括諾貝爾獎獲得者及世界各地的著名作家。今年國際筆會慶祝它成立百年，舉行盛大的慶典，由於新冠疫情絕大部分活動是在網上舉行。活動中最重要的部分是150個世界各國筆會的創會以來的歷史回顧展。劉曉波曾任獨立中文筆會會長，亦是諾貝爾和平獎得主。筆者為國際筆會和平委員會副主席和原獨立中文筆會會長，故應邀在慶典的結束部分發表講話。
PEN International is celebrating its centenary. What this past one hundred years means for the world and for all of us: uncountable memories, indescribable pain and agony about war and violence, yet also joy and high spirit of common consciousness and new discoveries. Congratulations and gratitude to PEN International! You have comfort so many broken hearts and protected so many colleagues in risks in the past centenary and will certainly continue to uphold the freedom of expression mission in the future.
My name is Tienchi Martin-Liao from the Independent Chinese PEN Center. ICPC was founded in 2001, in the same year, it became a member of the PEN International. Following the founding members Mr. Liu Xiaobo and Mr. Zheng Yi, I was the president of ICPC from 2009 to 2020 with a two years of break in-between. Now I am one of the vice presidents of the Peace Committee.
In its short history, ICPC owes the dedication of Liu Xiaobo. Liu has founded the ICPC together with other 30 authors to resist the pressure from the authoritarian regime. Under his leadership, the organization began to grow and unite many combatant in literature.
As a writer, literary critic and lateral thinker, Liu criticized strongly the obedient attitude of the intellectuals, who bow to the sovereign power of the rulers. He called it “slave mentality”. In his young years, Liu was a promoter of the Westernization, he believed that if China wants to realize a modern transformation, it needs to embrace the Western culture. But with time, he realized his own narrow-mindedness. He became more mature and saw also the flaws of the West. He wanted to get ride of his “Cultural Revolution-style” of language and thinking, which influenced his young adult years.
Liu Xiaobo inspired the Chinese youth and intellectual circle with numerous writings. Through his fine observation and calm analysis of the abnormal political as well as social phenomenon, he became a spiritual leader of the stagnated Chinese society. Liu Xiaobo also played an active role in the Chinese democracy movement.
Liu Xiaobo ended his visit in the United States in spring 1989 and returned to China to join the Tiananmen Square protest. Together with 3 friends, he started the three-day hunger strike to support the students and issued a declaration. Their hunger strike was cut short by a bloody military crackdown. The declaration started with following words:
We announce a hunger strike. We protest, we implore, and we repent.
We seek not death, but to live true lives.
Liu Xiaobo went in prison for 19 months for his “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement”. Four years later, in 1995 Liu was taken into custody for more then half a year, because of his petition for political reform. In 1996 he was again arrested and thrown to the “re-education camp through labor” because of drafting an statement about Taiwan issue, asking for a peaceful reunification . He was charged with “disturbing public order”, thus served 3 years in Camp. During his labor camp time, he married the poet and artist Ms. Liu Xia.
Liu enjoyed his freedom throughout the new century until December 2008. He was very productive and wrote versatile articles and books, which either expose his inner reflections to his own thoughts and live or indicate the wrong development in China’s society. I became a personal friend of Liu at this time, though only online. He was in our author pool of the website which I was the editor in Washington DC.
In 2008 Liu drafted together with friends the Charter 08, a manifesto for human rights, democracy and rule of law, which was inspired by Charter 77, a Czechoslovakia document by Vaclav Havel and others three decades earlier. Liu Xiaobo was arrested again and sentenced for 11 years for the “crime of Inciting subversion of state power. ” Liu did not survive the sentence and died on July 13, 2017 in age of 62.
Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace prize in 2010 while he was in prison. His wife had been under house arrest since the Nobel Prize announcement in October 2009. Liu Xia was released one year after Liu’s death and came to Germany. Today, she lives in Berlin.
Liu Xiaobo did his writing without fear, a man of deeds without fear. His courage illuminates the darkness in China. In Court, Liu Xiaobo has made a self defense statement on December 23, 2009. In it he said : “I hope that I will be the last victim in China’s long record of treating words as crime.” It is cynical and tragic that Liu’s wish does not realize. Today we have even more writers and journalists in jail because of their words. Yet Liu Xiaobo’s words encourage and comfort those in solitary. We, who are with freedom would continue to show solidarity to our colleagues, we do not allow that they are left behind or alone. Liu Xiaobo’s noble spirit will accompany us in our struggle against the autocracy.
Any tyranny will end, but the free idea and spirit will survive.