Chinese writer Liao Yiwu has been forced to cancel his appearence at the Sydney Writer’s Festival after the Chinese Government banned him from traveling outside his home country.
The move comes after an earlier decision by Chinese officials to prevent Mr Liao attending to New York to speak at the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature.
Mr Liao, is a poet and author, who had been jailed for 4 years composing poetry on the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.
He had been due to come to Sydney to discuss his new book The Corpse Walker and Other True Stories of Life in China and to peform some of his controversial poetry. He was also to speak on China’s increasingly political influence in Australia.
Liao told the New York Times that officials had invited him to a teahouse in his hometown of Chengdu and told him that he was not to travel internationally.
The ban comes after the Chinese government canceled several cultural forums planned by western embassies and intensified bans on social media use.
Artistic Director for the Sydney Writer’s Festival Chip Rolley has said, in a statement on the festival’s homepage that, the “Sydney Writers’ Festival is deeply disappointed by this decision… Our primary concern is for Liao Yiwu who has been denied the fundamental right to express his views freely. We are astonished by the Chinese government’s additional demand that he not publish his works internationally.”
The Sydney Writer’s Festival will be held from the 16-22 of May in locations around the CBD and surrounding suburbs.