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Case History: Liu Xiaobo

Status: 
Deceased
About the situation

Human rights defender, Nobel Peace Prize winner and prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) died on 13 July 2017. Liu Xiaobo, aged 61, died of multiple organ failure at the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. The human rights defender was  on medical parole, serving an 11-year prison sentence on charges of “inciting subversion against state power.” Prior to his death, Liu Xiaobo spent two decades in passionate support for the causes of peace, freedom, and human rights in China. In pursuit of these ideals, he gave up an esteemed career, years of his freedom, and ultimately, his life.

About Liu Xiaobo

liu_xiaoboLiu Xiaobo is a 61 year old writer, intellectual and advocate of political reform in China who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.  He is currently in jail, having entered the eighth year of an eleven year sentence for 'inciting subversion of state power'. 

13 July 2017
Liu Xiaobo died on 13 July shortly after being released on medical parole

Human rights defender, Nobel Peace Prize winner and prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) died on 13 July 2017. Liu Xiaobo, aged 61, died of multiple organ failure at the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. The human rights defender was  on medical parole, serving an 11-year prison sentence on charges of “inciting subversion against state power.” Prior to his death, Liu Xiaobo spent two decades in passionate support for the causes of peace, freedom, and human rights in China. In pursuit of these ideals, he gave up an esteemed career, years of his freedom, and ultimately, his life.

FLD Statement on the passing of Liu Xiaobo

7 July 2017
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo is refused visitors during medical parole

On 7 July, 2017, friends and relatives continue to be denied access to writer, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), who has been on medical parole for treatment of what has been described as ‘terminal cancer’ since 26 June, 2017. On 5 July, 2017, a friend of the human rights defender who travelled to Shenyang City, Liaoning Province with the intention of visiting Liu Xiabo in hospital was held incommunicado for eight hours by security officials.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)
 

After eight years in prison, on 26 June, 2017, Liu Xiaobo’s state-appointed lawyer announced that his medical parole had been approved, and that he had been transferred to a hospital in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province for treatment of advanced-stage liver cancer. Since then, Liu Xiaobo has had some access to his wife, Liu Xia, and other family members, however, friends, other family, media personnel, and other well-wishers attempting to visit the defender during his medical parole have been denied access.

On 4 July, 2017, a friend of Liu Xiaobo and fellow Charter 08 signer, Wen Jianke arrived in Shenyang City in order to visit the defender, and was instructed by security officials from his home city of Hangzhou that he would be escorted back to Hangzhou the following day. On the morning of 5 July, Wen Jianke was contacted by Shenyang City security officers, who held him incommunicado for eight hours. Other visitors to the hospital reported that roughly one hundred police and security officers have been stationed around the hospital, and are occupying the 23rd floor, where many suspect Liu Xiaobo is currently receiving treatment.

Liu Xia, the wife of the defender, has been kept in extreme isolation since the arrest of Liu Xiaobo. Her communication with the outside world has been severely monitored and restricted by local authorities. Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia have made multiple requests to seek medical treatment for Liu Xiaobo outside of China, however these requests have been denied.

Front Line Defenders expresses its deep concern for Liu Xiaobo’s health and well-being, and strongly condemns the denial of access and isolation of Liu Xiaobo and his family from their friends and associates by Chinese authorities. Front Line Defenders strongly urges Chinese authorities to allow friends to visit the defender during this critical stage of his illness and to reconsider requests made by Liu Xiaobo and his family for him to seek advanced medical care abroad.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in China to:

1. Immediately release Liu Xiaobo and quash his conviction as Front Line Defenders believes that he has been targeted solely as a result of his legitimate human rights work;

2. Immediately and unconditionally grant full parole and remove all restrictions on the free movement of  Liu Xiaobo so that he may seek medical treatment abroad.

3. Immediately and unconditionally remove all restrictions on the free movement and communication of Liu Xia, and cease all further forms of surveillance or harassment against her, as it is believed that these measures are not only solely related to her connection with Liu Xiaobo, but, furthermore, constitute a direct transgression of the rights of  Liu Xia;

4. Refrain any and all forms of harassment, including the incommunicado detention of friends, associates, and persons attempting to visit Liu Xiaobo;

5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in China are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

25 December 2010
Liu Xiaobo sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment

On 25 December 2009 Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a court in Beijing on charges of 'inciting subversion of state power'. The human rights defender had been initially detained on 8 December 2008 for his role in drafting Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform and human rights.

For more than two decades Liu Xiaobo persisted in peacefully advocating for greater human rights and political reform in China, knowing that each time he put his name to a new essay or circulated a new petition articulating these views he was running the risk of arrest and imprisonment.

In 1989 Liu Xiaobo left the safety of his position as a visiting scholar in Colombia University in order to return to Beijing and involve himself in the student protests taking place that year. After joining in a hunger strike with student leaders he later played a key role in persuading remaining students to peacefully leave Tiananmen Square as soldiers advanced with orders to clear the area.  On 6 June 1989 he was arrested for his role in the Tiananmen movement and spent nearly two years in prison.  He was also fired from his position as a professor in Beijing Normal University.

Unbowed by his time in prison, Liu Xiaobo continued to speak out and in 1996 was sentenced to three years re-education through labour for criticising China's one party political system.  It was while he was serving this sentence that he married photographer and intellectual Liu Xia, who today remains under strict house arrest and cut off from the outside world solely because of her association with Liu Xiaobo.

Liu Xiaobo's second term in prison, combined with increased surveillance and harassment did little to dissuade him from continuing to highlight human rights abuses and call for political reform.  From 2003 to 2007 Liu Xiaobo served as president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre.  He was arrested in 2008 for his involvement with Charter 08 and setenced the following year to over a decade in prison. In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China". Liu Xiaobo is a human rights defender whose courage has been demonstrated by his willingness to insist on greater rights for others while putting himself at serious risk.