Ail­ing No­bel lau­re­ate in China freed

Liu Xiaobo, serv­ing 11-year term, is granted pa­role af­ter ter­mi­nal liver can­cer di­ag­no­sis.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Jonathan Kaiman jonathan.kaiman @la­times.com

BEIJING — Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties re­leased de­tained dis­si­dent and No­bel lau­re­ate Liu Xiaobo on med­i­cal pa­role af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal liver can­cer, his lawyer said Mon­day.

Liu, 61, is re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at a hos­pi­tal in the north­east­ern Chi­nese city of Shenyang, ac­cord­ing to his lawyer Mo Shaop­ing.

The Nor­way-based No­bel Com­mit­tee awarded Liu, a lit­er­ary critic, poet and pro­fes­sor, the No­bel Peace Prize in 2010 while he was serv­ing an 11-year prison sen­tence for his pro-democ­racy writ­ing; it com­mended “his long and non­vi­o­lent strug­gle for fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights in China.”

Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties barred Liu’s fam­ily from at­tend­ing the No­bel cer­e­mony in Oslo’s City Hall, and his medal and diploma were placed on an empty chair.

His wife, Liu Xia, has been un­der house ar­rest since his de­ten­tion, and is re­port­edly suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion and heart dis­ease.

Liu had three years of his sen­tence re­main­ing. Whether his fam­ily has been al­lowed to visit him re­mains un­clear, and Mo, his lawyer, would not com­ment fur­ther on his con­di­tion. The No. 1 Hos­pi­tal of the China Med­i­cal Univer­sity in Shenyang, where Liu is re­ceiv­ing treat­ment, could not be reached for com­ment.

“Clearly the re­stric­tions on his wife, Liu Xia, con­tinue un­abated, and of course he’s not been able to com­mu­ni­cate with any­one in a pub­lic man­ner,” said Ni­cholas Be­quelin, re­gional di­rec­tor for East Asia at Amnesty In­ter­na­tional. “I think this re­flects the fact that Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have con­tin­ued a long-stand­ing de­ploy­ment of tac­tics to si­lence him, and make the world for­get about him by starv­ing every­body from any news about his con­di­tion.

“His sup­port­ers, friends and fam­ily mem­bers have been sub­ject to de­ten­tion, sur­veil­lance, in­tim­i­da­tion and so on,” Be­quelin con­tin­ued. “This has long been the case, and I think for China, it’s to min­i­mize the em­bar­rass­ment of jail­ing a No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate. And it has been, un­for­tu­nately, ef­fec­tive.”

Beijing con­demned Liu’s No­bel, spark­ing a diplo­matic fall­out be­tween China and Nor­way. Do­mes­ti­cally, cen­sors vir­tu­ally blacked out news of the award — though one state-run tabloid called him an “in­car­cer­ated Chi­nese crim­i­nal” — and most or­di­nary Chi­nese are un­fa­mil­iar with his case.

In April, Beijing nor­mal­ized diplo­matic re­la­tions with Oslo af­ter a six-year freeze.

Liu par­tic­i­pated in the 1989 Tianan­men Square prodemoc­racy protests; he gained some promi­nence for giv­ing fiery speeches and try­ing to re­solve con­fronta­tions be­tween pro­test­ers and po­lice. He de­clared a hunger strike days be­fore the mil­i­tary crushed the move­ment, killing hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of demon­stra­tors. After­ward, au­thor­i­ties ar­rested Liu for “coun­ter­rev­o­lu­tion­ary pro­pa­ganda and in­cite­ment.”

In 2008, Liu helped draft Char­ter 08, a man­i­festo de­fairly mand­ing an in­de­pen­dent le­gal sys­tem, free­dom of as­so­ci­a­tion, sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and other pil­lars of democ­racy. Po­lice ar­rested Liu; he was con­victed one year later of “in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion of state power” and sen­tenced to 11 years in prison.

More than 10,000 peo­ple have since signed the char­ter.

“Ha­tred can rot away at a per­son’s in­tel­li­gence and con­science,” Liu said in a state­ment be­fore his in­car­cer­a­tion.

“En­emy men­tal­ity will poi­son the spirit of a na­tion, incite cruel mor­tal strug­gles, de­stroy a so­ci­ety’s tol­er­ance and hu­man­ity, and hin­der a na­tion’s progress to­ward free­dom and democ­racy. That is why I hope to be able to tran­scend my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences ... to counter the regime’s hos­til­ity with ut­most good­will, and to dis­pel ha­tred with love.”

Ng Han Guan As­so­ci­ated Press

LIU XIA holds a photo of her and her hus­band, dis­si­dent and No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate Liu Xiaobo. He is re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at a hos­pi­tal in north­east­ern China; she has been un­der house ar­rest since his de­ten­tion.

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