Chinese Writers Receive Hellman/Hammett Grants

October 15, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Hu Jia (Verna Yu/AFP/Getty Images)
Hu Jia (Verna Yu/AFP/Getty Images)
Four Chinese writers are among 37 writers from 19 countries, who have received the prestigious Hellman/Hammett award this year in recognition of their courage in the face of political persecution, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The award recipients are writers and dissidents who courageously use their skills to expose and petition governments and officials who abuse their power to oppress the people.

Among this year’s awardees targeted for political persecution are four writers from China. Commentator and human rights activist Hu Jia was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. Poet and writer Shi Tao is best known as the victim of Yahoo’s cooperation with the Chinese police. A poet from Tibet, Tsering Woeser, is a banned journalist. A writer of Uighur heritage, Nurmuhemmet Yasin, was convicted of inciting Uighur separatism and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Since 1989, grants of up to US$10,000 have been awarded annually to writers around the world. Small grants are also made to support writers with emergency medical needs after torture, incarceration, or to take flight from their countries.

According to Human Rights Watch, since 1989, more than 700 writers from 91 countries have received Hellman/Hammett grants totaling more than $3 million.