Li Bifeng, China

Li Bifeng

Profession: Chinese activist, novelist and poet.

Date of arrest: 12 September 2011

Sentence: 12 years in prison

Expires: 11 September 2023

Details of arrest: According to PEN’s information, leading Sichuan activist Li Bifeng, aged 48, was arrested on 12 September 2011 after being summoned for questioning by police in Mianyang city, Sichuan province, for alleged “economic crimes”. Vaguely worded economic crimes are increasingly used to suppress political dissent in China, and those targeted include prominent Chinese artist and social critic Ai Weiwei.

Details of trial: Li Bifeng was convicted of alleged ‘contract fraud’ by the Shehong County People’s Court, Sichuan province, on 19 November 2012 and handed down a 12-year prison sentence. He is believed to be targeted for his peaceful political activism, in particular his links with exiled Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, who is a close friend of Li’s and fled China two months before Li’s arrest. Previous political imprisonment/problems: Li Bifeng is a prolific poet and novelist as well as a well-known dissident, who has spent a total of over 12 years in prison since 1990 for his activism and critical writings. He served a five-year sentence for taking part in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, followed by a seven-year jail term from 1998-2005 for reporting on a workers’ protest in the Sichuan city of Mianyang in 1998. While in prison, Li produced poetry and kept a diary. Some of his work can be found here ‘.((strlen(‘’)>40) ? substr(‘’,0,40).’…’ : ‘’).’

Source: PEN Internationel Writers in Prison Committee Caselist July to December 2012