Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Friends of China’s most famous political prisoner, the Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, have issued a plea to Chinese authorities to be allowed one final audience with the dying activist.
The Chinese democracy campaigner, who was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer in May after more than seven years in prison, appears to be nearing the end of his life. Family friends and doctors said on Thursday the 61-year-old’s condition had worsened and he was close to death.
Liu is reportedly being held under armed police guard at a hospital in north-eastern China, having been granted medical parole, and friends say they have been refused access to the dying activist. Only a small group of relatives, including Liu’s wife, the poet Liu Xia, and his brother-in-law, Liu Hui, are thought to have been allowed to see him.
A spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, separately said it had asked China to let a senior UN official have access to Liu but had so far not received a response.
In an online petition, friends of Liu Xiaobo – who was jailed in 2009 for subversion after helping launch a manifesto urging political change – called on Beijing to give them one last chance to see him, on humanitarian grounds. “We are filled with sorrow [and] realise we don’t have much time left with Liu Xiaobo, who will soon be gone,” it said.
Mo Zhixu, a Chinese writer and activist who is among the signatories, said friends were desperate to see Liu to offer him “comfort and encouragement” in his final days. “Liu is nearing the end ... At this stage, it is also our duty as Liu Xiaobo’s friends to visit him and to talk to him. We must visit him.”