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Xu Youyu

Xu Youyu

HRD, Scholar
Olaf Palme Memorial Award

2014 Winner - Xu Youyu

China Change Essay


The police entered my life around 2006. In China, the police had become part of some citizens’ daily existence due to their ideas, beliefs, writings and associations, and as with others, my initial fury was eventually tempered by acceptance of this fact – the most disgusting and repellent fact of my life.

Still I find it difficult to maintain equanimity either in their face or after they leave. Every encounter and conversation was for me an act of resistance, whether a well-considered response or an outburst of anger. Compared with others, my treatment by the police is probably the least offensive, but the psychic injury inflicted is none the less for it. I’ve never abandoned my effort and resolve to defy them. In doing so, I was defending my dignity and the normalcy of my social life.

Xu Youyu is a former scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Science and a signatory of Charter 08, a document calling for political reform and human rights in China. He is a recipient of the 2014 Olaf Palm Memorial Award for "his research and dialogue-oriented debate articles (which have) made a great contribution to the peaceful and democratic development in China."


Chinese HRDs face intimidation, harassment, house arrest, abductions, torture and imprisonment. They also work under very restrictive legislation, including laws which criminalize all unauthorized demonstrations and require government sponsorship for NGO registration, which is refused to any organisation touching on human rights issues. Widescale investigations into NGOs with links to overseas organisations took place in 2014 and 2015 resulting in harassment, detentions and forced closures.