China’s treatment of Liu Xiaobo condemned as ‘a moral and political outrage’


The Chinese authorities have refused permission for Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace laureate paroled from prison for cancer treatment, to go abroad for care, one of his lawyers said on Thursday, The New York Times reports:

The authorities did not explain the rejection, according to the lawyer, Shang Baojun. The news undermined hopes among supporters of Mr. Liu, a writer and dissident, that he might be freed altogether, if not allowed to leave China. He remains under police guard in a hospital.

A Hong Kong reporter shouted a question at Chinese President Xi Jinping after he gave a short speech upon arrival at Hong Kong airport today, asking if Liu would be released or receive treatment abroad. Xi did not answer, Reuters adds.

154 Nobel Laureates have urged Xi to allow Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, who is also ill, to leave the country to receive medical care.

“I hope that President Xi shows compassion and strength by responding favorably to this extraordinarily distinguished group of Nobel Laureates request that the request of the Lius to travel to the United States for medical treatment are honored,” said Jared Genser, Founder of Freedom Now and pro bono counsel to the Lius.

Genser published a Washington Post oped earlier this week entitled “Dear President Trump: Please Let Liu Xiaobo Die as a Free Man.”  In an editorial, the Post added “Mr. Liu’s case is a signal example of why China lacks the moral capacity to exercise global leadership.”

Liu’s diagnosis “is unfortunate news for him and his family, and it’s a blow to China’s democracy movement, as so many people have placed hope in him, and rightfully so,” said scholar and activist Zhang Xuezhong.

Liu was the co-recipient of the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2014 Democracy Award and the Washington-based democracy assistance group today said it deplores the unconscionable medical neglect suffered during his unjust imprisonment since 2009 for his efforts to advance democratic reform in China.

“Liu Xiaobo is one of the great heroes of democracy, in the tradition of Feng Lizhi and Andrei Sakharov,” said NED president Carl Gershman. “His imprisonment and cruel treatment by the Chinese government is a moral and political outrage.  Liu Xiaobo embodies the dream of a great China with genuine moral authority far better than do the country’s current leaders, who fear the eloquent and independent voice that Liu represents.”

Liu’s co-recipient of the 2014 Democracy Award, Xu Zhiyong (right), is due to be released from prison on July 15 after serving a 4-year sentence for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.”

China’s first petition for democratic change after the death of Mao Zedong, was perhaps that of the young lawyer, Columbia University’s Andrew Nathan wrote in Foreign Affairs earlier this year.

Xu’s moving statement at the end of his trial, hailed as the China Manifesto, is included in his newly-published personal memoir, To Build a Free China: A Citizen’s Journey:

In recognition of his work as an activist, lawyer, and founder of the New Citizen Movement, Dr. Xu was named one of Asia Weekly’s People of the Year in 2005 and one of the Southern People’s Weekly’s Top Ten Young Leaders of China in 2006. His efforts have been considerably less well received, however, by the government of the PRC, and he has been arrested numerous times.

Xiao Shu (left) spearheaded a signature campaign calling for Xu’s release, for which he was briefly detained himself, China Digital Times adds:

Xiao Shu was undeterred. Not long after he was released from detention, he publicly demanded civil society activist Wang Guoquan‘s release. In 2015, Xiao Shu also wrote op-eds in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in support of human rights lawyer Guo Feixiong on the eve of Guo’s trial…. Xiao Shu was active in the New Citizens Movement, lawyer Xu Zhiyong’s concept of political dialogue and engagement at the local level. Xu was detained in July 2013 for allegedly “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public venues.”

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