Liu reportedly has terminal liver cancer; he and his wife Liu Xia must immediately be given access to counsel and international community
Washington, D.C. – Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, has been released on medical parole after he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Dr. Liu is receiving treatment in the north-eastern city of Shenyang after receiving the diagnosis in May, according to his local lawyers.
“We are grateful for Dr. Liu’s release, but are deeply disturbed by the circumstances under which the Chinese government granted him parole,” said Jared Genser, Founder of Freedom Now and pro bono international counsel to Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia since mid-2010. “It is unconscionable that the government neglected Dr. Liu’s health, despite repeated calls from the international community to ensure proper care. The Chinese authorities must provide Liu Xiaobo open access to his counsel and to the international community so that his wishes at this difficult time can be ascertained and honored,” he added.
Liu Xiaobo is a scholar and pro-democracy activist imprisoned for his role in drafting Charter 08, a political manifesto that calls for increased rule of law, greater respect for human rights, and the end to one-party rule in China. The Chinese government detained Dr. Liu on December 8, 2008 — two days before the official release of Charter 08. The government held him in solitary confinement and denied him access to his lawyers.
The government did not officially acknowledge Dr. Liu’s arrest until June 23, 2009, when the State News Agency, Xinhua, quoted police as saying in a statement that ”Liu has been engaged in agitation activities, such as spreading of rumors and defaming of the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialist system in recent years.”
On December 23, 2009, Dr. Liu was tried for “inciting subversion to state power” under Article 105 of the Chinese Criminal Procedure Code. His trial violated international standards for due process of law. His wife and foreign diplomats and journalists were not allowed to attend the trial. On December 25, 2009, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years deprivation of political rights. In the verdict, his signing of Charter 08 was named as part of the evidence against him.
Introduced to the Lius by prominent Chinese dissident Yang Jianli, Freedom Now began representing Liu Xiaobo several months before he was announced as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Freedom Now made the connecting phone call between then Committee Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland and his wife Liu Xia to offer his congratulations. She was then escorted to Jinzhou prison to inform Dr. Liu that he won the Nobel Peace Prize and subsequently escorted back to her Beijing apartment. She has been under house arrest for the past seven years, despite the lack of any formal charge and the Chinese government’s claims that she is under no legal restriction.
Over the years, Freedom Now has engaged in a wide variety of efforts on the Lius’ behalf to advance their freedom, including:
- Winning the Lius cases before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which issued Opinion Nos. 15/2011 and 16/2011;
- Submitting the case of the Liu Xia to the UN Committee Against Torture;
- Securing a letter from 134 Nobel Laureates to President Xi Jinping on the Lius’ behalf;
- Coordinating a global effort which resulted in 450,000 signatures on an online petition being delivered in person to six Chinese embassies around the world;
- Sending a letter from 12 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to President Obama urging his help on the Lius’ behalf;
- Supporting efforts to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy “Liu Xiaobo Plaza,” a bill that passed the U.S. Senate last year;
- Publishing opeds in such newspapers including – Washington Post, Wall Street Journal (1, 2, 3), Los Angeles Times, U.S. News & World Report, The Australian, Huffington Post (1, 2), The Times (London), and The Hill; and
- Participating in countless interviews with television, radio, and print journalists.
Although the freedom of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xiaobo is long overdue, a security cordon remains around them. It is crucial the world presses hard for them to be given open access to counsel and the international community.
For more information, contact Jared Genser at jgenser [at] freedom-now [dot] org or +1 202 320 4135.