Nobel Peace Prize winning Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo dies, aged 61

Saturday, July 15, 2017

On Thursday, Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident, human rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate died in a hospital in China at the age of 61. He was on medical parole after he was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer while in prison for his active criticism of the Chinese government.

Last month, Liu was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer and was moved to a hospital in the city of Shenyang in north-eastern China. He was monitored and kept under tight security. Before his death, countries including France, Germany and the US asked China to allow him to travel abroad for treatment, but the government refused. Chinese medical experts declared him too ill to travel. Countries worldwide are condemning China's government for its actions, but China is reflecting the criticism, stating that the case was "an internal affair" and that other countries were "in no position to make improper remarks".

Via a Facebook post, Norwegian Nobel Committee's chairperson, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said: "The Chinese government bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death." The post also read, "We find it deeply disturbing that Liu Xiaobo was not transferred to a facility where he could receive adequate medical treatment before he became terminally ill." In his statement, Germany's foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said, "China now has the responsibility to quickly, transparently and plausibly answer the question of whether the cancer could not have been identified much earlier". Countries including France, Germany, Taiwan, the UK and the US have called for the release of his wife, poet Liu Xia, from house arrest.

Liu Xiaobo openly advocated for political reform in China. He also participated in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. He was one of the authors who wrote the Charter 08 manifesto which called for political reform and human rights in China. In December 2009, Liu was sentenced to eleven years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" ((zh))Chinese language: ‍煽动颠覆国家政权 by the People's court of Beijing. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010, but the Chinese government barred him from travelling abroad to receive it. An empty chair was used at the December 10, 2010 award ceremony to represent his absence.

Liu's main doctor, Teng Yue'e, said that he died "peacefully". In a statement, officials said multiple organs of Liu Xiaobo had failed. Before his death, he told his wife Liu Xia to "Live on well".