China Releases Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo From Prison After Cancer Diagnosis

Jun 29, 2017, 07:24
China Releases Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo From Prison After Cancer Diagnosis

Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his writings promoting democracy, has been given medical parole to be treated for late-stage cancer, his lawyers and the prison authorities said on Monday.

But China's foreign ministry hit back, saying "no country has the right to interfere and make irresponsible remarks on Chinese internal affairs".

Liu has been involved in pro-democracy movements since the June Fourth Incident, as China calls the bloody Tiananmen Square student protests of 1989, for which an official death toll has never been released.

In 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a move that deeply angered China, which described the activist as a "criminal".

Nobel judges describe him as the "foremost symbol" of the struggle for human rights in China.

His most recent conviction, on Christmas Day 2009, stemmed from his co-authorship of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform and human rights in China.

Shortly after the award, Mr Liu's wife, Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest, isolated from family and supporters.

Liu Xia, Liu's wife, who has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize, is suffering from depression but has been allowed to visit him in prison about once a month, a source close to the dissident told Reuters.

The holder of a doctorate in Chinese literature, Liu was once a professor at Beijing Normal University, but was banned from teaching at state institutions over his involvement in the 1989 demonstrations. In a tearful video message, his wife, Liu Xia, suggested that treatment was either no longer possible, or simply not on offer.

Most of those rounded up were released on bail but last year courts found six of them guilty of serious crimes, with sentences ranging from no additional jail time to seven years in prison.

So Who is Liu Xiaobo, and why had the Chinese government put him in jail?

Among them are Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche who was 13 years into a life sentence for terrorism and separatism when he died in prison in July 2015.

With three years left to serve in his 11-year sentence, the 61-year-old democracy campaigner was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on May 23 and granted medical parole days later, his lawyer Mo Shaoping said.

"Liu Xiaobo is receiving treatment according to a medical plan", the prison bureau said.

While the global community has united in a chorus of condemnation in response to Monday's news, Beijing maintains that he is a criminal, convicted of subverting state power. "Liu should never have been imprisoned for exercising his right of freedom of speech".

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said while it was "delighted" Liu was out of prison, "Chinese authorities carry a heavy responsibility if Liu, because of his imprisonment, has been denied necessary medical treatment".

He was arrested immediately after the crackdown and released without charge in early 1991. She has remained confined to her apartment for nearly seven years, except for monthly visits to see her husband, despite never being charged with any crime.

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