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Subject: Freed Librarian Calls for Action on Cuba
From: Robert Kent <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:BIBLIST - Topics in Nordic research library user services <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 14 Dec 2000 20:27:12 EST

text/plain (49 lines)

                       The Friends of Cuban Libraries

                                 PRESS RELEASE

                                 December 14, 2000

Contact: Robert Kent                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Tel.) 718-340-8494
(e-mail) [log in to unmask]
or [log in to unmask]


    Yongyi Song, a Chinese American librarian whose arrest and subsequent
release from a Chinese prison was the subject of an international furor
earlier this year, has called on the American Library Association to take
action regarding "a group of librarians who are now under attack in another
country, Cuba."  In a December 12 letter to ALA president Nancy Kranich, Mr.
Song drew parallels between his own arrest in China, for the alleged crime of
gathering published materials about the Cultural Revolution, with the
situation of independent librarians in Cuba who have opened more than 60
libraries offering public access to uncensored reading materials. "Because of
their defense of intellectual freedom," wrote Mr. Song, "they are being
subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, eviction, arrests and the
confiscation of their book collections."  Citing investigative reports on
what he termed "this shocking situation" by the International Federation of
Library Associations (IFLA) and Amnesty International, Mr. Song drew
attention to IFLA's appeal for international solidarity to protest the Cuban
government's repression of the independent librarians.  "As a matter of
principle," wrote Yongyi Song in his letter to ALA President Kranich, "it is
important for the ALA to respond to IFLA's appeal for action....  Our duty as
librarians is clear, and I respectfully urge the ALA to strongly support
Cuba's independent librarians and to actively aid their valiant effort to
defend intellectual freedom in a nation where harsh censorship and
intolerance have prevailed for many decades."
    On December 14 Yongyi Song received a response from the ALA reporting
that the subject of Cuba's independent librarians will be on the agenda of
the ALA International Relations Committee at the association's Midwinter
meeting in Washington, D.C., to be held in January 2001.

    BACKGROUND:  The text of IFLA's report on Cuba can be read on the
Internet (, in the "news and events" section).  The Friends of
Cuban Libraries, founded in June, 1999, is an independent, nonpartisan,
nonprofit support group for the independent librarians.  We are concerned
exclusively with intellectual freedom issues, as defined by the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, regardless of whatever government may be in
office in Cuba.  We are funded entirely by our members and do not seek or
accept funds from other sources.

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