Liu Xiaobo, Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate, dies

Liu Xiaobo, Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate, dies

The PEN community is deeply saddened to hear of Liu Xiaobo’s death today. Please visit PEN International's Tribute Page to leave a message for Liu Xiaobo's loved ones.

Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, writer, literary critic and human rights activist spent the last eight years of his life in Jinzhou prison in northeast China, with little or no access to friends, family or colleagues. A former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) and an active PEN member, Liu was arrested in December 2009 and charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power’, with a sentence of 11 years in prison.

His wife – the poet and photographer Liu Xia – was only allowed to visit him once a month under the supervision of prison guards. They would be forced to change the subject if they spoke about anything deemed offensive to the state. Liu Xia herself spent almost the entire duration of her husband’s detention under house arrest, held without charge.

Despite this harsh and unjust treatment, Liu Xiaobo’s continuing message to the outside world was one of peace, hope, and love. His poetry – written from within prison – spoke of his love for his wife and his hope for a China free from discrimination and human rights abuses. He used imagery rooted in nature and transformation, and his verse was rhythmic and lyrical.

At the December 2010 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Liu Xiaobo’s medal and diploma were presented to an empty chair. It is a huge sadness to all of us who knew or were influenced by Liu Xiaobo – his resilient activism, his commitment to justice, his optimism and peaceful heart – that he will never have the opportunity to be recognized in person for all that he has done in the service of others. His empty chair was and remains a deep injustice, but just as he was remembered whilst locked behind bars, he will be remembered by us forever.

As well as sending our thoughts and love to Liu Xiaobo’s family, we are calling on the authorities to grant complete freedom of movement to his wife Liu Xia at this difficult time and going forward.

Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate, Is Said to Be Suffering Organ Failure (NYT)
The First Hospital of China Medical University said Wednesday that doctors had recommended tracheal intubation but that his family had rejected the request.

Time running out for dying Liu Xiaobo to leave China, diplomats fear (GUARDIAN)
Sources say it is medically possible for dissident to be moved for treatment, but China may be waiting until it is not

Liu Xiaobo Must Be Allowed to Seek Treatment Abroad (PEN AMERICA)

Chinese Writer-Activist Lio Xiaobo Released on Medical Parole for Late-Stage Cancer (PEN AMERICA)

Devotion amid despair: the great contemporary love story of Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo (GUARDIAN)
Nobel laureate and poet fell in love after meeting in the 1980s and have endured persecution, detention and now, his critical illness, together.

As China's Strength Has Grown, So Has Its Unwillingness To Let Dissidents Leave (NPR)