Scholars at Risk mourns the passing of Liu Xiaobo, a scholar of literature, writer, human rights defender, democracy advocate, and a Nobel Laureate, wrongfully imprisoned in China since 2008. Chinese state authorities announced news of his passing today, less than two months after disclosing his diagnosis with late-stage liver cancer, during which time authorities denied requests to allow him to travel to receive potentially life-saving treatment outside the country.
Liu Xiaobo was a prominent supporter of the Tiananmen Square movement in 1989 and among the leading drafters of “Charter 08,” a manifesto promoting democracy and nonviolent political reform in China. He was taken into custody in December 2008 and held without charge until December 2009 when he was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years of deprivation of political rights on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2010, while in prison, for his “long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights.”
Scholars at Risk offers our deepest condolences to Liu Xiaobo’s family and colleagues, especially his wife Liu Xia, who remains under house arrest since 2010. We respectfully urge President Xi Jinping to lift all restrictions on Liu Xia, and to uphold China’s commitment and obligations to respect academic freedom, freedom of expression, due process rights, and the humane treatment of prisoners.