The Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) announced the winners of the ICPC’s 2017 Free-to-Write Award, Lin Zhao Memorial Award, and Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award and the judge’s comments.

【The ICPC published on November 17, 2017】

The Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) announced the results of three annual awards for promotion of freedom of creation and fight for freedom of speech.

Winner of the Free-to-Write Award 2017 – Poet Langzichn (now living in Guangzhou, China)

Winner of the Lin Zhao Memorial Award 2017 – Writer Zhao Sile (now living in Guangzhou, China and staying in Taipei, Taiwan)    

Winner of the Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award 2017 – Poet and Writer Li Bifeng (now imprisoned in Sichuan, China)

The ICPC granted Langzichn the Free-to-Write Award 2017 for the following reasons:

Langzichn illustrates his consistent fight for freedom with his profound and straightforward writings, and especially in chaotic times, his resolute character proves that our aspirations for the future are likely to be accomplished.  Langzichn’s literary works, his poetry in particular, is a beacon of hope of troubled times.  He is anything but alone.  Circulated widely in society, his poetic justice will be definitely a symbol of warmth and humanity for the public.  In this regard, the ICPC decides to award the Free-to-Write Award 2017 to Langzichn in honor of his achievements in literature.” 

The ICPC granted Zhao Sile the Lin Zhao Memorial Award 2017 for the following reasons:

“As a young woman born in the late 1990s, Zhao Sile chooses to start on the path of individual action and dissident writing and is therefore suppressed by the Chinese authorities mercilessly.  Not only is she a thinker and writer, but she is also an activist.  As phenomenal as her male counterparts like Liu Xiaobo, Gao Zhisheng, Xu Zhiyong, Guo Yushan and Yi Renping, she and other outstanding women, including Ai Xiaoming, Ye Haiyan, Kou Yanding and Wang Qiaoling, not only battled against the autocratic regime, but also protested against prejudice with perseverance.”        

The ICPC granted Li Bifeng the Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award 2017 and commended him for the following reasons:

“Li Bifen is really an independent poet and writer who cannot be defeated by the Chinese government that puts citizens behind bars for their publications riddled with dissident views.  He maintains his conscience and universal compassion, viewing confinement in prison as nothing due to his immense bravery and perseverance.  He treasures the importance of freedom, outlining his great ambitions through Chinese writings, completing a great number of works to describe agony and life in a vivid manner.  Despite a low circulation, his publications demonstrate a high level of moral values and power of words, placing a tremendous influence on society.  Owing to his courageous actions and succession, Li Bifeng sets an example of the Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award in contemporary times.”  

 As poet Langzichn joined in a petition for overseas treatment of Liu Xiaobo to cure his canner and had interviews by foreign journalists in July 2017, he was under “executive detention” for 10 days by the Chinese authorities.  Further, he was accused of the crime of “criminal detention” that was cooked up by the Chinese authorities as composing the publication, entitled “Liu Xiaobo’s Memorial Poetry Anthology,” which is set to be published outside China.  The incident of the poet being convicted for poetry and literature received extensive coverage worldwide, igniting compassion and appeal from international writers and human rights groups.  After 35 days, he was released “on bail.” 

As a vital writer of feminist writings and feminist issues, Zhao Sile wrote the book, entitled “Their Fighting History: Battles, Setbacks and Conflicts – Civil Awakening of Chinese Women.”  The book was published in Taiwan this year, receiving favorable feedbacks from intellectuals and campaigners across the strait.  The book became one of the original works that are rare in Chinese-speaking communities, (especially in mainland China), and succeeded the work by Zeng Jinyan, entitled “Feminism and Genesis of the Citizen Intelligentsia in China,” deserving compliments and encouragement from individual writers. 

The ICPC also expects that the example of the imprisoned poet and writer Li Bifeng winning the award, encourages people among the Chinese-speaking communities, and even in the international society to pay more attention to writers who are violently treated and put behind bars by their own countries, especially those writing their plight in prison and demonstrating lofty thoughts through writings.

Since the three awards were established, the ICPC’s 2017 Free-to-Write Award, Lin Zhao Memorial Award and Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award have been granted 15, 13 and 7 times respectively.  The former winners of the three awards prior to this year’s awards are Chinese poet Wang Zang, Hong Kong-based writer Zeng Jinyan and dissident writer Chen Shuqing, now imprisoned in Hangzhou, China.  

The ICPC is expected to hold an award ceremony for the above three awards in the American East by the end of this year.  At that time, members of worldwide pen associations, representatives of Friends of LXB, writers, scholars and journalists from the US, representatives of PEN America, of PEN New England and of Freedom of Publication Community will be invited to attend the ceremony in person or watch it live.