RIP: Liu Xiaobo _ [28 December 1955 – 13 July 2017]
Liu Xiaobo, one of the most important Chinese dissidents, has died. He is the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital while held by the Nazis in 1938.
He was a Chinese literary critic, writer, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who called for political reforms and the end of communist single-party rule. He was incarcerated as a political prisoner in Jinzhou, Liaoning. On 26 June 2017, he was granted medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and died on 13 July 2017 at the hospital.
Liu rose to fame in the literary circle with his literary critiques and became a visiting scholar at several overseas universities. He returned home to support the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and was imprisoned for the first time from 1989 to 1991 and again from 1995 to 1996 and from 1996 to 1999 for his involvement in democracy and human rights movement. He served as the President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, from 2003 to 2007. He was also the president of Minzhu Zhongguo (Democratic China) magazine since the mid-1990s. On 8 December 2008, Liu was detained due to his participation with the Charter 08 manifesto. He was formally arrested on 23 June 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. He was tried on the same charges on 23 December 2009, and sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights on 25 December 2009.
During his fourth prison term, Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” He was the first Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Prize of any kind while residing in China. Liu is the third person to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while in prison or detention, after Germany’s Carl von Ossietzky (1935) and Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi (1991). Liu was also the second person to have been denied the right to have a representative collect the Nobel Prize for him and died in custody. (The first being Carl von Ossietzky who died in a Nazi concentration camp.)_