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Authors come out against China as 2023 WorldCon host

by Lauren Brown

Mar 14, 2022

N.K. Jemisin

More than 100 authors have signed an open letter calling for a revocation of the decision to let China host the 2023 WordCon awards “in protest of serious and ongoing human rights violations taking place in the Uyghur region of China”.

Prominent signatories include Hugo winners, nominees and bestsellers Angie Thomas, N K Jemisin, G Willow Wilson, S A Chakraborty, Zoraida Córdova, Tochi Onyebuchi, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Jeannette Ng, Tracy Deonn, Roseanne Brown, Usman T Malik, and famous Uyghur writers such as Tahir Hamut Izgil.

The letter calls for the World Science Fiction Society’s 2023 convention to be relocated because of the treatment of the Uyghur people, a minority ethnic group in China, who human rights groups say have been stripped of their rights and detained in "re-education camps". A number of organisations such as The World Uyghur Congress and Uyghur Human Rights Project have also added their names to the open letter.

It states: “We ask that in solidarity with the Uyghur and Turkic peoples suffering ongoing atrocity crimes, that the site allocation bid for WorldCon 2023 be changed to any other reasonable contender... Given the egregious human rights violations that are ongoing in the Uyghur region, we are urgently asking the organisers of WorldCon 2023 to join us in condemning these violations by revoking the 2023 site allocation bid to Chengdu, China."

Chengdu won the bid to host the 2023 event in 2021 over France, the United States and Canada. WorldCon community members vote on which country’s bid will win the right to host.

Ausma Zehanat Khan, award-winning author of The Khorasan Archives series (Harper Voyager) and signatory, said: “As science fiction and fantasy authors, we imagine brave new worlds in our fiction. We challenge authority where grave injustices may be perpetrated without accountability or reparation.

“Our characters undertake impossible quests to bring down oppressive regimes for a chance at a just future. Ignoring the Chinese government’s oppression of the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples is in total opposition to everything we as a writing community stand for. We cannot, in good conscience, celebrate the achievements of the best and brightest in our field, against a backdrop of catastrophic human suffering”.

The Bookseller has approached the organisers and the Chengdu committee for comment. The event is set to take place in August 2023 at the Chengdu Century City New International Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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