Chi­nese No­bel lau­re­ate Xiaobo’s breath­ing fails

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

China’s can­cer-stricken No­bel lau­re­ate Liu Xiaobo suf­fered res­pi­ra­tory fail­ure as his con­di­tion wors­ened yes­ter­day, his hos­pi­tal said, as Ger­many of­fered to host him and rights groups de­cried the lack of in­de­pen­dent in­for­ma­tion. The First Hos­pi­tal of China Med­i­cal Univer­sity in the north­east­ern city of Shenyang said Liu’s fam­ily de­clined to have him put on ar­ti­fi­cial ven­ti­la­tion, which was nec­es­sary “to main­tain life”. “The hos­pi­tal has ex­plained the ne­ces­sity of tra­cheal in­tu­ba­tion to the pa­tient’s fam­ily, the fam­ily re­fused the tra­cheal in­tu­ba­tion,” the hos­pi­tal said on its web­site.

The hos­pi­tal, which ear­lier re­ported that he had suf­fered or­gan fail­ure, said the 61-year-old democ­racy ad­vo­cate’s liver func­tion had de­te­ri­o­rated de­spite three days of anti-in­fec­tion and blood treat­ment. Liu, who has been held since 2008 for “sub­ver­sion”, risks be­com­ing the first No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate to die in cus­tody since Ger­man paci­fist Carl von Ossi­et­zky, who passed away in a hos­pi­tal un­der the Nazis in 1938. Ger­man gov­ern­ment spokesman St­ef­fen Seib­ert called on China to free Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, say­ing Ber­lin “stands ready to host and med­i­cally” treat him.

The lat­est re­ports “raise the question of whether Mr Liu’s can­cer should have been di­ag­nosed and treated far ear­lier,” Seib­ert said. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has re­buffed in­ter­na­tional ap­peals to let Liu seek treat­ment abroad, say­ing he is get­ting the best pos­si­ble care from top do­mes­tic doc­tors. For­eign min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang re­peated his stan­dard an­swer ear­lier yes­ter­day that other coun­tries should re­spect the coun­try’s ju­di­cial sovereignty and “not in­ter­fere in China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs un­der the pre­text of an in­di­vid­ual case”.

A Ger­man and a US doc­tor vis­ited Liu last week­end and said he was still strong enough to ful­fill his wish to go abroad, but the hos­pi­tal has is­sued in­creas­ingly pes­simistic re­ports ev­ery day since then. Tai­wan’s Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen took to Twit­ter to call on Bei­jing to free Liu and “al­low him to seek treat­ment wher­ever he wishes”. She re­it­er­ated her of­fer to have Liu treated in Tai­wan, which China con­sid­ers a rebel province. The United States re­peated calls on Tues­day for Liu to be re­leased and said it was ready to wel­come him if he chose to be treated there.

Ma­nip­u­la­tion of in­for­ma­tion

Liu, who was sen­tenced to 11 years in prison in 2009, was ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal early last month after he was trans­ferred from prison due to late-stage liver can­cer. Hu­man rights groups said it was nearly im­pos­si­ble to ob­tain in­de­pen­dent in­for­ma­tion about Liu’s health given that he is in a heav­ily guarded hos­pi­tal and his wife, who is with him, is also not free. “What is on dis­play is still the ma­nip­u­la­tion and con­trol of in­for­ma­tion and dis­hon­esty of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment,” Hu­man Rights Watch’s Asia researcher Maya Wang said.

“The cou­ple has not been al­lowed to speak freely to any­one,” Wang said. “There are some reasons to con­tinue to cast doubt on the as­sess­ment of the hos­pi­tal.” Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s China researcher Pa­trick Poon said the in­for­ma­tion is hard to ver­ify but if it is true, “Liu Xiaobo is in his last hours of life”. “Even in his last mo­ments, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment doesn’t seem to loosen their grip of con­trol of Liu Xiaobo and his fam­ily,” he said.

Leaked video

A video leaked ear­lier this week showed the West­ern doc­tors prais­ing their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts as they stood by Liu’s bed­side. The video was de­nounced as pro­pa­ganda by rights groups while the Ger­man em­bassy said Mon­day it “seems that se­cu­rity or­gans are steer­ing the process, not med­i­cal ex­perts”. But in an ed­i­to­rial, the state-run Global Times news­pa­per said the video aimed to show the Chi­nese doc­tors’ ef­forts to help him and said “West­ern forces are politi­ciz­ing Liu’s can­cer treat­ment”.

Liu was ar­rested in 2008 after co-writ­ing Char­ter 08, a bold pe­ti­tion that called for the pro­tec­tion of ba­sic hu­man rights and re­form of China’s one-party Com­mu­nist sys­tem. At the No­bel Peace Prize cer­e­mony in Oslo in 2010, he was rep­re­sented by an empty chair. Hu Jia, a Bei­jing-based ac­tivist and fam­ily friend, sobbed at the lat­est up­date, but he said the fam­ily may have de­clined the ven­ti­la­tor out of hope he could sur­vive.

“Per­haps Liu Xiaobo’s fam­ily still hopes that there can be a ray of light hopes that there can be a turn­around,” Hu said. “This is what we hope too. As long as he still has a breath left, then those planes should be ready to take him away at any mo­ment. Xiaobo, hold on.”—AFP

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