Last week Thursday, 61 year old Liu Xiaobo, Chinese critic, human right activist and Noble laureate died in detention. Liu is known as the most prominent human rights and democracy advocate in China.
China has always been popular for its non-democratic and conservative governing leadership style. Liu Xiaobo in his younger days had started speaking up in advocacy for democracy and human rights in China.
Liu died of multiple organ failure as he battled the last stage of liver cancer.
His death has received tributes from world leaders and international human right organizations.
Hong Kong which celebrated their hand over anniversary on 1st July dared to conduct a march for the deceased human rights campaigner. Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous city that enjoys more freedom than mainland China.
Liu’s remains was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea.
Here are interesting facts you need to know about the late Chinese political prisoner:
1. Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison
Liu was incarcerated for his pro-democratic Charter 08 Manifesto in 2009.
This was not the first time however that the human rights activist was jailed by the Chinese government. He was arrested and imprisoned for the first time in 1989 and was released in 1991.
He was imprisoned the second time from 1995 to 1996 for participating in a democracy and human rights movement. From 1996 to 1999, he was charged and jailed for “disturbing the social order”.
The final time was on June 23, 2009. He was arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. 6 months later he was charged to court and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.
2. Died Of Liver Cancer
The Chinese authorities in June revealed that the literary icon was at the late stage of liver cancer; a condition blamed on the government for neglecting his medical needs while in detention.
He was denied access to travel abroad for medical treatment.
3. Advocated For Democracy
The brilliant Chinese writer and critic dedicated his talent to the fight for democracy and human right.
Liu, took part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that ended with the deaths of many. Although he arrived late at the scene of the protests, he got students to leave the square. That way he saved the lives of many students.
It was after the protest that most of his works were banned.
He wrote several works criticizing the Chinese model of leadership while preaching freedom and dignity of the people. His first book Criticism of the Choice: Dialogues with Li Zehou, was published in 1987.
In June 1988, Liu received a PhD in literature. His doctoral thesis, Aesthetic and Human Freedom, passed the examination unanimously and was published as his second book(Wikipedia).
4. 1st Nobel Prize Winner Residing in China
In absentia, Liu Xiaobo was awarded a Noble Peace Prize in 2010. This made him the third person to have received the Peace prize award while in prison. He was also the second winner to be denied the right to be represented at the awards; and the second to die in custody.
Liu was the first Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Prize of any kind while residing in China.
5. His Death Made Him More Famous
As at the time he was awarded the Noble Laureate award, about 85% of Chinese students did not even know about him. With international reactions towards his death, it is speculated that his legacy may be stronger than his life-time struggle for democracy in China.
6. Non-violent Freedom Fighter
Toeing the Mahatma Gandhi’s revolutionary style of civil disobedience, Liu Xiaobo wanted change and wanted it as peacefully as possible.
7. Survived By His Wife And Son
His wife, Liu Xia was placed under house arrest few weeks before the death of Liu. She was the only one who was permitted to visit him in prison. Liu has a son from his first marriage with his former wife, Tao Li.