The Peace prize winner and Nobel laureate died of liver cancer
China’s most prominent human rights and democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo has died aged 61.
Liu was being treated for a terminal liver cancer in a hospital in north-eastern China after being transferred from prison last month. The activist was serving an 11-year term for ‘subversion’.
The university professor turned rights campaigner was regarded as a criminal by authorities and was jailed throughout his life.
A number of world leaders including the German chancellor Angela Merkel urged China to allow Liu to travel overseas to receive medical care that supporters argued would prolong his life. Chinese authorities refused, spurring critics to claim CCP leaders were intentionally shortening his life by denying him the opportunity.
Author and activist Tienchi Martin-Liao and lifetime friend of Liu said of his death, “It is so hard. I don’t know if I can say anything.”
“I hate this government … I am furious and lots of people share my feeling. It is not only sadness – it is fury,” Tienchi added. “How can a regime treat a person like Liu Xiaobo like this? I don’t have the words to describe it.”
“This is unbearable. This will go down in history. No-one should forgot what this government and the Xi Jinping administration has done. It is unforgivable. It is really unforgivable.
Hu Ping, a friend of Liu and editor of the pro-democracy journal Beijing Spring said, “Liu Xiaobo is immortal, no matter whether he is alive or dead. Liu Xiaobo is a man of greatness, a saint.”
During the pro-democracy protests in Beijing in 1989, Liu was lecturing in New York. It was at this moment where he thought, “This is where I should be and this is where I can make a contribution. So I am going there”, according to Chinese literature expert Perry Link.
Liu then flew to Beijing and played a central role in the Tiananmen Square protests, leading a hunger strike shortly before the 4 June incident. He was consequently jailed for the “counter-revolutionary” riots.
From then, Liu transformed into a lifelong activist and supporter of democracy, continuing to speak out despite spending years behind bars. “She is a wonderful woman. A really wonderful woman,” says Jean-Philippe Béja, a French academic and longstanding friend. “I don’t even dare to imagine how she feels now.”
Jared Genser, a US lawyer who was trying to secure Liu’s release, said the activist had not died in vain. “Liu’s ideas and his dreams will persist, spread, and will, one day, come to fruition … And his courage and his sacrifice for his country will inspire millions of Chinese activists and dissidents to persevere until China has become the multiparty democracy that Liu knew to his core was within its people’s grasp.”