Liu Xiaobo: A giant of human rights

Nobel Prize Winner leaves a lasting legacy for China

Chinese authorities announced today that Liu Xiaobo, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has passed away.

Information on Liu Xiaobo’s ill health, who was suffering from terminal liver cancer, was released only after he became too ill to recover. Several Western countries have previously asked that Mr. Liu be allowed to seek treatment abroad. The request was refused. Worse yet, he was kept under guard in a hospital and kept silenced.

Because of his demand for greater human rights in China, he was branded as a criminal by the Chinese government. 

Liu Xiaobo developed a conviction for the cause of democracy and human rights after witnessing the brutal government crackdown of the peaceful protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He once said, “as a survivor of the Tiananmen Square Democracy movement, I feel that I have a duty to uphold justice for those who died in the event.”

Since 1989, he received multiple prison sentences, including hard labour, for his efforts to promote human rights in China. But he was not to be deterred. He was one of the main authors of the Charter 08 manifesto calling for more freedom and political changes in China. The punishment he received for this action was extremely harsh: 11 years in prison. 

Liu Xiaobo criticized the Chinese government’s fallings in number of areas. But he was especially critical of the Chinese government’s use of the label “enemy mentality” to silence human rights activists as enemies of the state.

“Hatred can rot a person’s wisdom and conscience. An enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation and inflame brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a country’s advance toward freedom and democracy”

When the Nobel Committee announced that Liu Xiaobo was to receive Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, he was not allowed to attend the ceremony. An empty chair had to be his representative instead.

> Read Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty’s statement on Liu Xiaobo’s legacy for human rights 

Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xiu, a respected human rights blogger and activist, is currently under house arrest and prohibited from releasing a statement about her husband’s death.

Please join Amnesty’s call for an end to Liu Xia’s illegal house arrest. She and other human rights defenders in China should be able carry out their peaceful activities without fear of hindrance, intimidation, arbitrary detention or imprisonment.

> Click here to send a letter to the Chinese authorities

> Sign Amnesty International’s online petition to #FreeLiuXia