Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Berlin Lit. Festival to honor Liao Yiwu on June 4

Via email, the China Support Network has received this information from Germany:

Appeal for a worldwide reading on June 4th 2010 for Liao Yiwu, and in
commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre
The international literature festival Berlin (ilb) calls for cultural
institutions, schools, radio stations and interested people to participate
in a worldwide reading of prose and poems by the Chinese author Liao Yiwu on
June 4th 2010. This day is the anniversary of the Tinananmen massacre in
Beijing in 1989, during which, according to the Red Cross, roughly 2,600
people died. The event itself, from which a democratic movement arose, is
not covered in the official Chinese media, and censorship was further
increased on the 20th anniversary of the massacre, extending deep into the
Web 2.0 internet platforms. The enforced silence in China - which also
covers the period of the Cultural Revolution – and the extremely high number
of executions in the country, as well as the treatment of Tibet, must be
even more clearly communicated by the civic institutions in democratic

For this reason, the following works by Liao Yiwu will be read on June 4th:
»My Teacher, my Enemy«; »The Public Toilet Manager«; »The Peasant Emperor«;
»Nineteen Days«; »Memories of My Flute Teacher« and, by Wen Huang (the
author's American translator), »Liao Yiwu – Lunatic Outcast«.

Liao Yiwu is one of the authors whose works are not published in China
despite their international success, as the powers-that-be claim that they
promote »the dissemination of counter-revolutionary propaganda with foreign
help«. Even his name may not be mentioned. From 1990 to 1994 he was
imprisoned for his literary and socio-political activities, and was only
released early from jail due to international pressure. His interviews with
underdogs (»Interviews with People from the Bottom Rung of Society«) and his
poetry (including »Massacre« and the anthology »The Fall of the Holy
Temple«) have been published abroad in recent years by renowned publishing
houses and journals like Lettre International (German edition) and the New
York journal The Paris Review.

Despite owning a travel permit, Liao Yiwu was not allowed by the Chinese
authorities to attend either the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair or the The ilb and the Harbourfront Festival in Hamburg have invited
him to both festivals in September 2010. We can only hope that the Chinese
authorities grant him the fundamental right to travel abroad, and to return
to China.

The goal of the worldwide reading is to share Liao Yiwu's works with a
broader readership, to commemorate the massacre of Tiananmen Square, and to
urgently admonish China's human rights record.

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the beginning of the war in
Iraq, the international literature festival Berlin and the
Peter-Weiss-Stiftung für Kultur und Politik for the first time called for a
worldwide reading on March 20th 2006 – this initial »Anniversary of the
Political Lie«, with a reading of Eliot Weinberger's »What I Heard About
Iraq«, was followed by other worldwide readings after the murder of Anna
Politkovskaya, during the run-up to the Olympic Games in China, against the
leadership of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, in memory of Mahmoud Darwish, and
in support of the democratic opposition in Iran. As many as 100
institutions, including radio and television stations, either participated
in or reported on the worldwide readings across all continents.

The texts intended to be read on this worldwide reading are available in
English and German. Institutions and persons who would like to participate
in the reading on June 4th are asked to inform us of their wish to be
involved. The email address is:

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