Liu Xiaobo, jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate, dies at 61

Liu Xiaobo was released from prison on medical parole after being diagnosed earlier June 2017 with late-stage liver cancer and was being treated in a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang before his death.

By: AP | Beijing | Updated: July 13, 2017 7:39 pm
Liu Xiaobo , Liu Xiaobo health, chinese noble laureate prisoner, Chinese nobel laureate health, Liu Xiaobo was released from prison on medical parole after being diagnosed earlier June 2017 with late-stage liver cancer and was being treated in a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang before his death. He was more than half-way through an 11-year sentence after being convicted in 2009 on subversion charges. (Photo via AP)

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 centered 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.

When the Chinese government sent troops and tanks into Beijing to quash the protests on the night of June 3-4, Liu persuaded some students to leave the square rather than face down the army. The military crackdown killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of people and heralded a more repressive era.

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. Although Liu wasn’t the initiator, he was a prominent force behind it and already well known to the authorities.

The sentence only increased Liu’s prominence outside of his country.

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, despite not being convicted of any crime. China also punished Norway, even though its government has no say over the independent Nobel panel’s decisions. China suspended a bilateral trade deal and restricted imports of Norwegian salmon, and relations only resumed in 2017.

Dozens of Liu’s supporters were prevented from leaving the country to accept the award on Liu’s behalf. Instead, Liu’s absence at the prize-giving ceremony in Oslo, Norway, was marked by an empty chair. Another empty chair was for Liu Xia.

Liu was born on Dec. 28, 1955, in the northeastern city of Changchun, the son of a language and literature professor who was a committed party member. The middle child in a family of five boys, he was among the first students to attend Jilin University when college entrance examinations resumed following the chaotic 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

Liu studied Chinese literature there and later moved to the capital, first as a graduate student then as a lecturer at Beijing Normal University.

After spending nearly two years in detention following the Tiananmen crackdown, Liu was detained for the second time in 1995 after drafting a plea for political reform. Later that year, he was detained a third time after co-drafting “Opinion on Some Major Issues Concerning our Country Today.” That resulted in a three-year sentence to a labor camp, during which time he married Liu Xia. He is survived by his wife and by his son from his first marriage.

Released in 1999, he joined the international literary and human rights organization PEN and continued advocating for human rights and democracy.

Liu Xia’s brother was convicted on fraud charges and sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment over a real estate dispute which supporters said was designed to further persecute Liu Xiaobo’s family over his actions.

Two years after Liu’s Nobel prize, a Chinese writer won the Nobel Prize for Literature, to the delight of Chinese authorities. Mo Yan is not a critic of the Communist Party, and after initially evading questions from reporters, he eventually said he wished for Liu Xiaobo’s freedom.

Other Nobel laureates were more outspoken. In 2012, an appeal by 134 Nobel laureates, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, called the detentions of both Lius a violation of international law and urged their immediate release. Fellow PEN members such as Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie appealed for his release in a letter June 29, after he was transferred from prison to the hospital.

Their appeal fell on deaf ears.

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  1. J
    J
    Jul 14, 2017 at 12:38 am
    China is in a Communist gulag a dark dungeon. Ruled with brute force. A communist country with state capitalism.what Liu Xiaobo did is everyday affair in India. Communism and Islam are alike accept the Allah thing.
    Reply
    1. S
      surge
      Jul 14, 2017 at 12:35 am
      The CPC has blood on its hands.
      Reply
      1. A
        Asish
        Jul 14, 2017 at 12:27 am
        All Indian Newspapers should show the Photo in front of Liu Xiaobo just like BBC did. Government of India should hold 2 minutes silence for Liu Xiaobo telling that he was valuable man who inspires all of us to value democracy and remind us that how as a country we fought against Emergency of Indira and which allowed us to save this country from going to the path of citizen hell.
        Reply
        1. M
          mao tse
          Jul 13, 2017 at 11:22 pm
          Chinese government killed him
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          1. s
            sandeep.k.v kuniyil vayalari
            Jul 13, 2017 at 9:40 pm
            no human rights in china
            Reply
            1. S
              Smart
              Jul 13, 2017 at 9:22 pm
              Agreed. Where are those leftist mor ons? China is a shame on human rights. Now total silence is expected from the liberal sickular brigade. RIP Liu Xiaobo.
              Reply
              1. S
                surge
                Jul 14, 2017 at 12:36 am
                Gadhe- Liu himself was a leftist - a true leftist - not the joke that China has become.
                Reply
              2. M
                mimi sur
                Jul 13, 2017 at 9:03 pm
                All award wapsi Janata should get a lesson and thankful to hindus for tolerating them
                Reply
                1. S
                  Smart
                  Jul 13, 2017 at 9:22 pm
                  Agreed. Where are those leftist morons? China is a shame on human rights. Now total silence is expected from the liberal sickular brigade. RIP Liu Xiaobo.
                  Reply
                2. A
                  A.s. Malhotra
                  Jul 13, 2017 at 8:47 pm
                  Noble Prize is the higest and its recipients across the World must be treated with honour, respect and dignified manner and they should not have any boundary to move any country for sense of well-beings and quality of life. This news is really sad for untimely death of Noble leaurette due to inadequate providing health facilites for the whole globe.
                  Reply
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