Chi­nese po­lit­i­cal pris­oner and No­bel Prize win­ner Liu Xiaobo dies at age 61

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD -

SHENYANG, CHINA — No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal pris­oner, died Thurs­day at a hospi­tal in the coun­try’s north­east, of­fi­cials said. He was 61.

Liu had been hos­pi­tal­ized for ad­vanced liver can­cer di­ag­nosed in prison in May. In an on­line an­nounce­ment, the ju­di­cial bu­reau of the city of Shenyang said he died of mul­ti­ple or­gan fail­ure.

Liu’s sup­port­ers and for­eign gov­ern­ments had urged China to al­low him to re­ceive treat­ment abroad, but Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties in­sisted he was re­ceiv­ing the best care pos­si­ble for a dis­ease that had spread through­out his body.

Liu was im­pris­oned for the first time in con­nec­tion with the 1989 Tianan­men Square pro-democ­racy protests. He was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize in 2010 while serv­ing his fourth and fi­nal prison sen­tence, for in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion by ad­vo­cat­ing sweep­ing po­lit­i­cal re­forms and greater hu­man rights in China.

“What I de­manded of my­self was this: whether as a per­son or as a writer, I would lead a life of hon­esty, re­spon­si­bil­ity, and dig­nity,” Liu wrote in “I Have No En­e­mies: My Fi­nal State­ment,” which he had hoped to read out in court when be­ing sen­tenced in 2009. He was not per­mit­ted to do so and re­ceived an 11-year prison sen­tence.

He came to promi­nence fol­low­ing the 1989 pro-democ­racy protests cen­tred in Bei­jing’s Tianan­men Square, which he called the “ma­jor turn­ing point” in his life. Liu had been a vis­it­ing scholar at Columbia Univer­sity in New York but re­turned early to China in May 1989 to join the move­ment that was sweep­ing the coun­try and which the Com­mu­nist Party re­garded as a grave chal­lenge to its author­ity.

Liu be­came one of hun­dreds of Chi­nese im­pris­oned for crimes linked to the demon­stra­tions. It was only the first of four stays in prisons ow­ing to his ide­ol­ogy.

His fi­nal prison sen­tence was for co-au­thor­ing “Char­ter 08,” a doc­u­ment cir­cu­lated in 2008 that called for more free­dom of ex­pres­sion, hu­man rights and an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary in China.

In 2010, while Liu was serv­ing his sen­tence in a prison in a small city in China’s north­east, he was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize, with the Nor­we­gian-based com­mit­tee cit­ing Liu’s “long and non-vi­o­lent strug­gle for fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights in China.” The award en­raged China’s gov­ern­ment, which con­demned it as a po­lit­i­cal farce. Within days, Liu’s wife, artist and poet Liu Xia, was put un­der house ar­rest.

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