Friday, 14 July 2017
Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate and writer Liu Xiaobo, who was imprisoned since 2009 for calling for more freedom in his country, has died. He was recently released into hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer but died yesterday from multiple organ failure whilst under heavy armed guard.
The death of the 61-year-old dissident and veteran of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 has sent shockwaves through China’s activist community and among human rights campaigners across the world. In Hong Kong, about 100 democracy activists protested outside China's liaison office.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said Mr Liu was a "courageous fighter for civil rights and freedom of expression", while the Norwegian Nobel Committee accused Beijing of having a “heavy responsibility for his premature death”.
Rex Tillerson, the United States’ Secretary of State, expressed condolences over the death of Mr Liu and called on Beijing to release his wife, the poet Liu Xia, and allow her to leave China.Mr Liu's wife had been placed under house arrest in 2010, but was allowed to see him at the hospital as her husband's health deteriorated over the past couple of weeks before he died. Rights groups and Western governments have mourned Liu Xiaobo's death and also called for authorities to grant his wife Liu Xia and the rest of his family freedom of movement. Her fate will now be the centre of concern among human rights groups.
Amid increasingly desperate calls from supporters for him to be granted his dying wish to receive treatment for his condition abroad, Mr Liu remained in China where he died on Thursday evening, local officials said.His friends claim China’s refusal to allow him to travel overseas was an attempt to shorten his life, and ensure he could not criticise Beijing in his final moments.Beijing had repeatedly dismissed foreign criticism of its treatment of Mr Liu, saying that it is an internal affair.
Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The Chinese government’s arrogance, cruelty, and callousness are shocking – but Liu’s struggle for a rights-respecting, democratic China will live on.”
Mr Liu was born to an intellectual family in Jilin province in China’s northeast and led a life of fearless activism.The former professor of literature at Beijing Normal University wrote about the value of individual freedoms and nonviolent resistance.
He was influential at the Tiananmen Square protests, which ended when tanks rolled into central Beijing killing hundreds, possibly over a thousand protesters.Mr Liu was said to have saved the lives of many students when he negotiated between the army and protesters as they ended their occupation of the square.
Liu Xiaobo was one of China’s preeminent dissident writers and activists.Devoted not only to the end of China's one-party rule but also to the absolute necessity of replacing it with a democratic system, he was committed to non-violent protest. He was arrested in December 2008 on the eve of the release of Charter 08,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_08 an extraordinary declaration he had co-authored calling for political reform, greater human rights, and an end to one-party rule.
This bold manifesto, which was signed by more than 10,000 people after it went online, calls for the protection of basic human rights and the reform of China's one-party system.
- Words seen 'as crimes' -
Western governments, rights groups and fellow activists repeatedly called for his release.
Charter 08 specifically demands the abolition of subversion as a criminal offence.
"We should make freedom of speech, freedom of the press and academic freedom universal, thereby guaranteeing that citizens can be informed and can exercise their right of political supervision," it says.
"We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes."
Liu was subsequently held under ‘residential surveillance’ in a windowless room for more than six months. In June 2009, he was formally charged and transferred to the Public Security Bureau Detention Centre in Beijing,where he reported an improvement in his conditions; he was allowed outside and had detainees in his cell with whom he could talk. On 25 December 2009, Liu was convicted of ‘incitement to subversion’ for his role in Charter 08 and for several online articles. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Liu spent much of his adult life as a target of the Chinese government. He played a crucial part in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, staging a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square in support of the students and leading calls for a sustainable democratic movement. He helped negotiate the safe exit from Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989 when the military bloodily suppressed six week-long protests in the heart of Beijing.Despite spending two years in prison for his role, he continued to speak out in favour of freedom of expression and democracy. As such, he spent an additional three years in a re-education-through-labour camp (1996-1999) and was regularly detained and harassed until his most recent arrest.
Liu had been a prominent member of PEN http://www.pen-international.org/ and served as president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), which does on-the-ground advocacy work in China despite constant pressure from the authorities. In 2010 Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his long and non-violent struggle for human rights in China. Liu was the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel Peace Prize and one of only three people to have won it while detained by their own government. He was the second Nobel laureate to die in custody after German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital under the Nazis in 1938.
"I want to tell the regime that is withholding my freedom: I have no enemies," Liu wrote in an essay that was published worldwide in 2010. Liu included police officers, public prosecutors and judges in his statement. "I do not accept your surveillance, your confinement, your judgements," he wrote. "But I do respect your professions and your personalities." He added: "Hatred corrodes the wisdom and the conscience of a human being. Demonizing others can poison the spirit of a nation, destroy tolerance and humanity, and block the path to progress and democracy. I hope to be able to respond with best intentions to the hostility of the regime, and to defuse hatred with love."
The text was read out on the stage when Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2010. The Norwegian Nobel Committee honored Liu for his long and non-violent fight for fundamental human rights in China. An empty chair sat where he would have were he not in prison.
This is a sad moment for human rights, but Liu Xiaobo leaves behind a powerful legacy to inspire others to continue the struggle for human rights in China and around the world.
A poet, scholar, and courageous advocate, Liu Xiaobo dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty. With courage and dignity he inspired millions. I hope he is the last victim in China's long record of treating words as crimes. It's leaders should bow their heads in collective shame.
Liu Xiaobo - One letter
one letter is enough
for me to transcend
and face you to speak
as the wind blows
past the night
uses its own blood
to write a secret verse
that reminds me each word
is the last word
the ice in your body
melts into a myth of fire
in the eyes of the executioner
fury turns to stone
two sets of iron rails
moths flap toward lamp
light, an eternal sign
that traces your shadow
Posted by teifidancer at 17:36