Ailing Nobel laureate in China freed
Liu Xiaobo, serving 11-year term, is granted parole after terminal liver cancer diagnosis.
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.”
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.