Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo (1955-2017) Dead At 61, After Years Of Imprisonment. ‘Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals’

First posted July 13, 2017

NB: The Chinese Communist Party should hang its head in shame at this brutal judicial murder of one of China’s gentlest and kindest souls, whose only crime was that he wanted freedom and democracy for the Chinese people and had the temerity to demand a dialogue with the Dalai Lama. In fact he was punished for asking the Chinese government to implement its own Constitution, under which (Article 35) China’s citizens enjoy ‘freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration’. It is an indication of the brittle nature of totalitarianism that it so fears the power of the human mind that it can sentence political dissidents to a living hell rather than allow them to speak freely. Communists and socialists the world over should reflect on how much their campaigns for democratic rights are compromised by association with such criminal dictators as are ruling the so-called People Republic. 

Rest in Peace Liu Xiaobo. Democrats the world over will  always remember you and your sacrifice. We mourn for you and your brave wife and friends. Down with tyrants. DS

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“Even if I were crushed into powder, I would still use my ashes to embrace you”

Liu Xia was placed under house arrest when her husband was given the Nobel 
peace prize in 2010. ‘Kafka could not have written anything more absurd than this,’ 
she said. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

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“Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes.. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.”

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and political dissident Liu Xiaobo died of liver canceron Thursdayafter almost a decade of imprisonment by the Chinese government on charges of sedition, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse report. He was 61. The Chinese literary critic, lecturer and human rights activist was a leader in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. After the brutal crackdown on demonstrators, a friend drove Liu to the front gate of the Australian Embassy and said if he entered, he could seek asylum. Instead, Liu decided to remain in China and effect change from within, ABC News reported.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta: The untimely dissident
His Nobel Prize ceremony did powerfully mark a moment that exposed China’s strange vulnerability

Obituary BBC: Liu Xiaobo

South China Morning Post

China tells world to stay out of its ‘domestic affairs’ over Liu Xiaobo’s death
Having condemned Liu to a quarter of his life behind bars, China’s leaders were seeking to control his funeral.

For his participation in the student protests, Liu spent two years in prison. He would endure another three years in a labor camp in the mid-1990s for having the temerity to call for a dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader. “Liu Xiaobo is one of China’s most prominent prisoners of conscience,” the Dalai Lama said in a June 2017 statement. “It is my belief that the initiatives he took, and for which he has been severely punished, would have led to a more harmonious, stable and prosperous China, which in turn would have contributed to a more peaceful world.”

Liu served as the president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from 2003 to 2007 and was also the former president of Minzhu Zhongguo (Democratic China) magazine. Then, in 2008, he drafted “Charter 08,” a pro-democracy manifesto that received thousands of signatures from Chinese dissidents and their supporters. In response, Beijing determined he was guilty of “inciting subversion.” “The government is trying to tell us to stop trying to push for human rights and democracy in China,” Xu Youyu, a former philosophy professor and Charter 08 signer, told The New York Times. “Secondly, he has been the biggest threat inside of China, and they want to get rid of him.” Although many of the Charter 08 signers were interrogated, only Liu was arrested and charged with trying to overthrow the government. In late 2009, a Beijing court sentenced him to 11 years in prison for undermining state authorities by calling for political reforms.

In 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Since the Chinese government viewed him as a criminal, Liu was never allowed the opportunity to collect his prize. At the Nobel presentation ceremony, he was represented by an empty chair. According to The Telegraph, Beijing was infuriated by the Nobel committee’s decision to honor Liu, and censored the live broadcast of the ceremony. Former President Barack Obama, the previous year’s laureate, hailed Liu as a representative of “universal” values and urged Chinese authorities to set him free.

Despite Liu’s international acclaim, few people in China know anything about him or his work, Hu Jia, a Beijing-based dissident and friend of Liu’s, told Reuters. Earlier this month, Chinese authorities granted Liu a medical parole and moved him from prison to a hospital. He was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in June, BBC News reported. Journalist Bill Bishop said Liu’s death in state custody would likely affect the international perception of China and might cause the U.S. to take a hard-line policy toward the country.

“I believe the last Nobel Peace Prize laureate to be effectively killed by his own government was Carl [von Ossietzky], in Germany in 1938. Does Xi care that the likely precedent here for Beijing will be pre-World War II Nazi Germany?” Bishop wrote on his blog Sinocism.  Liu’s wife, artist Liu Xia, has been under strict house arrest since her husband was honored with the Nobel Prize in 2010, The New York Times reported. Although photos recently released by hospital authorities showed her by Liu’s bedside, authorities refused to grant them permission to leave the country so he could seek better health care. In Charter 08, Liu described freedom as a basic universal value. “Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes,” Liu wrote. “Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.”

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The Chinese Communist Party has established a tyranny over its citizens. It brutally punishes those who call for democracy and for adherence to its own constitution. Its cruelty towards the brave individuals who insist on the freedom of conscience is an indicator of totalitarianism; and the Partys’ fear of truthful speech. The treatment of Liu is a barbarity that must be condemned. It is hard to believe that the wife of a dying man and he himself could be such a threat to the Chinese super-power that even their brief meeting would need to be so severely curtailed: “In the past three years, Liu Xia has not been allowed to deliver her letters to her husband when visiting him. Liu Xiaobo used to be able to receive his wife’s letters from his lawyers through her younger brother Liu Hui. Now, the prison simply returns the unread letters to her. During the past three months, his lawyer has even been refused visits with him.” All those who stand for democracy and human rights should support the struggle for democracy in China. If Liu passes away his death will be one more act of criminality committed by the CCP: DS

PS: These are the last paragraphs of an article by Simon Leys in his book of essays, The Hall of Uselessness (2011). The essay is titled ANATOMY OF A “POST-TOTALITARIAN” DICTATORSHIP: The Essays of Liu Xiaobo on China Today..

(Extract begins) In a last short piece written in November 2008, Liu looked “Behind the ‘China Miracle.’” Following the Tiananmen massacre, Deng Xiaoping attempted to restore his authority and to reassert his
regime’s legitimacy after both had melted away because of the massacre. He set out to build his
power through economic growth. As the economy began to flourish, many officials saw an
opportunity to make sudden and enormous profits; their unscrupulous pursuit of private gain became
the engine of the ensuing economic boom. The most highly profitable of the state monopolies have
fallen into the hands of small groups of powerful officials. The Communist Party has only one
principle left: any action can be justified if it upholds the dictatorship or results in greater spoils. Liu

In sum, China’s economic transformation, which from the outside can appear so vast and deep, in
fact is frail and superficial. . . . The combination of spiritual and material factors that spurred
political reform in the 1980s – free-thinking intellectuals, passionate young people, private
enterprise that attended to ethics, dissidents in society, and a liberal faction within the
Communist Party – have all but vanished. In their place we have a single-barreled economic
program that is driven only by lust for profit.

One month after writing this, on December 8, 2008, Liu was arrested and eventually charged with
“inciting subversion of state power” – whereas his only activity was, and has always been, simply to
express his opinions. After a parody of a trial – which the public was not allowed to attend – he was
sentenced to eleven years in jail on December 25, 2009. When, one year later, he was awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese authorities acted hysterically: his wife, his friends, and his acquaintances
were all subjected to various forms of arbitrary detention to ensure that none of them would be able
to go to Oslo to collect the prize on his behalf. Today his wife, Liu Xia, is in her second year of house
arrest without charges.

These dramatic measures had one clear historical precedent: in 1935, the Nazi authorities gave the same treatment to the jailed political dissenter Carl von Ossietsky. At the Oslo ceremony, an empty chair was substituted for the absent laureate. Within hours, the words “empty chair” were banned from the Internet in China – wherever they occurred, the entire machinery of censorship was automatically set in motion. Foreign experts in various intelligence organizations are trying to assess the growing strength of
China, politically, economically, and militarily. The Chinese leaders are most likely to have a clear
view of their own power. If so, why are they so scared of a frail and powerless poet and essayist,
locked away in jail, cut off from all human contacts? Why did the mere sight of his empty chair at the
other end of the Eurasian continent plunge them into such a panic?
(End of extract)

See also

Tom Phillips – China puts leading human rights lawyer Xie Yang on trial for ‘inciting subversion’

NB: The Chinese Communist Party has always been terrified of the truth. They choose to crush those of their citizens who uphold their own constitutional rights. Clearly these rights are meant as face-cream for a repressive and authoritarian regime that can’t face the truth about itself. This is not new, it was the case during the Bangladesh crisis of 1970-71, and during the Naxalite movement, when they supported the genocidal Yahya Khan regime and kept the facts from their own people. Democrats the world over should support this brave lawyer.  Down with totalitarianism. DS

Meditations on Evil

The People’s Republic of Thuggery – Chinese agents bar access to the ‘free’ wife of Liu Xiaobo

Wang Quanzhang: The lawyer who ‘simply vanished’ By John Sudworth

Joshua Wong, the student who risked the wrath of Beijing: By Tania Branigan

Tom Phillips – Your only right is to obey’: lawyer describes torture in China’s secret jails

China’s universities must become Communist party ‘strongholds’, says Xi Jinping

Will Hutton – Politically bankrupt China dare not tolerate freedom of the press

Chinese media & the politics of forgetting: Tiananmen anniversary June 4, 1989

Chinese law professor expelled over article calling for constitutional rule

Ian Johnson – Inside and Outside the System: Chinese Writer Hu Fayun // China’s Invisible History: An Interview with Filmmaker and Artist Hu Jie