Zhu Yufu's Appeal Denied
Dissident Sent to Forced Labor Prison

On May 6, 2012, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network reported that Zhu Yufu’s appeal of his seven-year sentence was denied.  On May 10, the network reported that Zhu was transferred to Zhejiang Prison No. 4, in the Prefecture of Hangzhou Shi, Yuhang District.   Zhejiang Prison No. 4 is a forced labor camp (“laogai”) whose inmates produce hoists, hand trolleys and other items for the state-owned Hangzhou Wulin Machinery Company for pennies a day.  China is sensitive about the camps.  Melissa Chan, the English-language correspondent for Al Jazeera in China, was expelled from the country on May 7, 2012, at least in part for her reporting on prison conditions.  The New York Times said Chinese authorities were angered by Al Jazeera’s description of prison labor as a form of slavery for millions of inmates in a documentary broadcast in November, 2011.

An Appeal to the Ambassadors and Consuls of the People's Republic of China in the United Kingdom and the United States

March 4, 2012

Dear Ambassadors and Consuls:

To date, Zhu Yufu has been detained by your Government for an entire year for his composition and distribution of the now famous poem, It’s Time.

This imprisonment violates Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Every day that Zhu Yufu remains in prison increases the power of his words and the reach of his poetry. Your Government’s attempt to silence him only makes his voice louder.

The signers of The Petition to Free Zhu Yufu urgently request his immediate and unconditional release: it’s time to let him go.

We have a say in the matter. So do you. Free Zhu Yufu. The time is now.


The Petition to Free Zhu Yufu

The Emperor is Afraid of Zhu Yufu

February 10, 2012--A Chinese court has sentenced dissident writer Zhu Yufu to seven years in prison,  the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said this morning.

Zhu, a long-time human rights activist and democracy advocate, was detained in March of 2011 and charged with subversion in Hangzhou in January 2012 for acts including the composition and distribution of a poem urging citizens to create a freely chosen future for China.

The poem, titled “It’s Time” appears here and in translation by A. E. Clark:




’s time, people of China! It’s time.
The Square belongs to everyone.
With your own two feet
It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
A song belongs to everyone.
From your own throat
It’s time to voice the song in your heart.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
China belongs to everyone.
Of your own will
It’s time to choose what China shall be.

This site urges all of its readers to resist the repression of Chinese poets and to sign the petition to free Zhu Yufu:  

The Emperor is Afraid of Zhu Yufu


Press Release 10 February 2012--Today’s sentencing of veteran activist Zhu Yufu to seven-years for writing a poem deemed to "incite subversion of state power” is further evidence of the Chinese government’s continuing repression of anyone it perceives as directly or indirectly criticizing it policies, Amnesty International said.

For many years the Chinese government has stamped on dissent and today’s decision should be seen in the context of a growing demand in the country for more freedom.

Amnesty International condemns this direct and unjustified assault on Zhu Yufu’s basic human right to freedom of expression

"We believe this is a sign that the Chinese leadership is afraid. Why else would they sentence someone to seven years in prison for writing a poem? The Chinese government has seen the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. It has seen the people coming out in the tens of thousands to protest a repressive regime in Russia. And it has seen the Chinese people themselves grow stronger in their demands for more freedoms and a say over their country's future. And now the leaders at the very top have clearly given out orders that any hint of dissent must be crushed," said Sarah Schafer, Amnesty International's China Researcher.

The Emperor is Afraid of Zhu Yufu


Statement 14 Feb 2012--The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International condemns the seven-year prison sentence handed down to the writer Zhu Yufu on 10 February 2012 for his allegedly ‘subversive’ poem ‘It’s Time’. The WiPC calls for his immediate and unconditional release, and that of all those currently detained in the People’s Republic of China for peacefully expressing their views.

Zhu Yufu, who is a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), spent seven years in prison for subversion after being convicted in 1999 for helping to found the banned opposition group, the China Democracy Party. In 2007, a year after his release, he was detained and sentenced to more than two years in prison after allegedly pushing a police officer while being arrested. 

The poem at the heart of the indictment, “It’s Time” appears to have drawn the authorities’ attention for its timing around the Jasmine Revolution controversy.

The Emperor is Afraid of Zhu Yufu


Beijing-based dissident Zha Jianguo denounced the heavy prison term given to Zhu Yufu.  Zha cited a saying attributed to Alexander Dubček, the Czech reformist leader during Prague Spring: “They may crush the flowers, but they can’t stop the spring.”

The Arrow of Faith

by Michael H. Brownstein

Zhu Yufu, do not let go of the arrow
you hold within your words,
keep it straight and keep it with you—
the bow it comes from comes from good
and its aim is true and its aim
will not miss. There is power in arrows,
words and sound, and they worry
the powers and the want to be powers
and those who continue to corrupt power.
Your arrow made of many fine things
will find its mark in the Square of Hope,
The Square of Poetry, the Square of Peace.
Know we are with you. We hold arrows too.

The Bamboo Forest

The Arrow of Faith and other poems in support of Zhu Yufu can be found in The Bamboo Forest.