Liu Xiaobo’s condition ‘a blow to China’s democracy movement’


China’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was granted his request to seek treatment for advanced liver cancer outside prison. Liu, who was sentenced to prison in 2009 for advocating political liberalization, was diagnosed in May.

“This 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 and has family had made a “tremendous sacrifice” for the cause of freedom and democracy in China.

A recipient of the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2014 Democracy Award, Liu received the Nobel Peace Prize for his writings promoting democracy, The NY Times notes.

“I think there will be a big reaction in the democracy movement,” said Liang Xiaojun, a human rights lawyer in Beijing. “But the government will probably shut down news about this, or dilute it, so it won’t have too much impact domestically.”

Charter 08

“Adding injury to insult, Liu Xiaobo has been diagnosed with a grave illness in prison, where he should never have been put in the first place,” said William Nee, China researcher for Amnesty International. “The Chinese authorities should immediately ensure that Liu Xiaobo receives adequate medical care, effective access to his family and that he and all others imprisoned solely for exercising their human rights are immediately and unconditionally released.”

Charter 08 calls for gradual political reforms: rule of law, the separation of powers, and a multi-party system, said NED president Carl Gershman, adding that Liu “pushed for political change by asking the state to live up to its own laws and obligations.”

The charter’s signatories, “a diverse body comprising both prominent figures within the system and ordinary people at the grassroots, are united behind its common vision of a democratic China,” he told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on the 2nd anniversary of Liu’s imprisonment. “It is part and parcel of the broad bottom-up movement for popular constitutionalism and gradual change. As we have seen in the success stories of South Korea and Taiwan, such social movements are among the best guarantors of peaceful transition to a robust democracy.”

Over the past four years, the Chinese government has carried out an extensive campaign to silence political dissent, curtail civil society, and ensure ideological loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party from various sectors of society, including business leaders, bloggers and social media users, university professors, and journalists, notes the Congressional-Executive Commission on China:

One of the most vicious aspects of the campaign has been the use of detentions, arrests, torture, televised confessions, and enforced disappearances to punish lawyers and legal advocates who have defended various victims of the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, including religious adherents, petitioners, artists, and reporters.  On July 9, 2015, an unprecedented, sweeping, nationwide crackdown began in which over 300 human rights lawyers, legal professionals, and human rights advocates were detained, summoned for questioning, or disappeared. This intensified targeting of the Chinese legal community came to be called the “709” crackdown.

Witnesses to this week’s CECC hearing on China’s Crackdown on Human Rights Lawyers include:

Terence Halliday: Co-director of the Center on Law & Globalization at the American Bar Foundation and Co-author (with Sida Liu) of the book Criminal Defense in China: The Politics of Lawyers at Work.

Teng Biao: Chinese human rights lawyer; Visiting Scholar, Institute for Advanced Study, and Co-founder, the Open Constitution Initiative and China Human Rights Accountability Center.

HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center, Washington, DC 20515 | Wednesday, June 28, 2017 – 2:00pm to 4:00pm

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