Chi­nese dis­si­dent Liu Xiaobo gains honor in death.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - The As­so­ci­ated Press

Po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dence is a great, and beautiful, mystery. For those liv­ing un­der re­pres­sive rule, the path of least re­sis­tance is, well, not to re­sist — to ac­com­mo­date and sur­vive, or, in less hon­or­able but hardly rare cases, to col­lab­o­rate. And yet, some do choose the more de­cent and dif­fi­cult way. Out of ide­al­ism, ne­ces­sity, sheer re­fusal to sub­mit or some un­fath­omable com­bi­na­tion of all three, they stand up, they speak out, they as­sume risks.

China’s Liu Xiaobo em­bod­ied the dis­si­dent tra­di­tion, fight­ing back re­lent­lessly but peace­fully against a regime in his coun­try that epit­o­mized modern-day au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism — un­til he died of liver can­cer on Thurs­day at age 61.

Liu was born in 1955, amid the hor­rific throes of the early Peo­ple’s Repub­lic, and went on to study lit­er­a­ture and phi­los­o­phy, earn­ing his doc­tor­ate in 1988.

Moved by the fall of com­mu­nism in Europe and the lim­ited open­ing un­der Deng Xiaop­ing in China, he joined the stu­dent protests in Tianan­men Square in 1989. This con­sci­en­tious ac­tivism earned him a two-year prison sen­tence. Later he served three years in a la­bor camp for other pur­ported po­lit­i­cal of­fenses. Liu’s causes were lib­erty and democ­racy, which he con­sid­ered uni­ver­sally ap­pli­ca­ble, not Western im­ports for which his na­tive coun­try was some­how “not ready.” His spe­cific de­mand was that the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist author­i­ties ac­cept the need for a con­sti­tu­tional over­haul that would es­tab­lish elec­tions, rule of law and free­dom of speech, of the press, of assem­bly and of re­li­gion.

In De­cem­ber 2008, Liu joined other in­tel­lec­tu­als in pub­lish­ing Char­ter 08, a pro-democ­racy man­i­festo mod­eled on the Char­ter 77 is­sued by Czech dis­si­dents 31 years ear­lier. No­tably, the doc­u­ment not only called upon China’s rulers to en­able a bet­ter fu­ture for their peo­ple; it also told the truth about the “gar­gan­tuan” price China’s peo­ple had paid since the 1949 revo­lu­tion: “Tens of mil­lions have lost their lives, and sev­eral gen­er­a­tions have seen their free­dom, their hap­pi­ness, and their hu­man dig­nity cru­elly tram­pled,” the char­ter ob­served.

Forthrightly ad­dress­ing China’s past, present and fu­ture earned Liu an 11-year sen­tence, for “in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion of state power,” which be­gan in late 2009 and which he was still serv­ing, al­beit on med­i­cal pa­role at a hos­pi­tal, when he drew his last breath. His stead­fast dis­si­dence also earned Liu the No­bel Peace Prize in 2010, though Bei­jing re­fused to let him travel to Oslo for the award cer­e­mony, just as it also re­fused to let him re­ceive friends and well-wish­ers in his fi­nal days, or to go abroad for med­i­cal treat­ment.

These fi­nal in­dig­ni­ties were in­tended to de­grade and hu­mil­i­ate, but the at­tempt was fu­tile and in­deed shames those who made it. Shortly be­fore Liu died, the man ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for this and so many other abuses in China, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, was bask­ing in the glam­our and glory of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics at the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ham­burg. Yet through­out Xi’s rule, the true lo­cus of honor in China has been any place of con­fine­ment oc­cu­pied by Liu Xiaobo. The mem­bers of The Den­ver Post’s editorial board are Wil­liam Dean Sin­gle­ton, chair­man; Mac Tully, CEO and pub­lisher; Chuck Plun­kett, edi­tor of the editorial pages; Me­gan Schrader, editorial writer; and Co­hen Peart, opin­ion edi­tor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.