Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo has been released from prison on medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
Liu, 61, was a key leader in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. He was arrested in 2008 after penning a prodemocracy manifesto called Charter 08, in which he called for an end to one-party rule and improvements in human rights. Following a year in detention and a two-hour trial, he was sentenced in December 2009 to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion of state power.
Little has been heard from him since. When he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair. The Nobel committee described him as "the foremost symbol" of the human rights struggle in China. The Chinese government, which has repeatedly regarded him as a criminal, was infuriated by the award. As a result, diplomatic ties with Norway were frozen. Relations were normalized only last December.
His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, though Chinese authorities have never explained why they have restricted her movements. Family friend and lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has stated that the intimidation of Liu Xiaobo’s family members represents a wider pattern of selective use of the law by Chinese authorities to keep dissidents in line.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide calls upon the Chinese government to ensure the safety and security of the Liu Xiabo, who was in prison only for his words; to embrace the universal values that are championed by the Nobel Peace Prize; and to begin political reform in China.