Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize laureate imprisoned in China, dies aged 61

Posted July 15, 2017

China's Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo died Thursday after a battle with cancer, remaining in custody until the end as officials rebuffed global pleas to let the prominent dissident receive treatment overseas.

Many held signs with the image of the man they say symbolised courage in the face of adversity, while protesting the Chinese government's actions in detaining Liu Xiaobo up until his death in hospital from liver cancer.

Chinese authorities are slamming several countries over "irresponsible remarks" made by Western leaders about the death of jailed Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo but it appears Canada has escaped Beijing's ire.

In a statement the Norwegian Nobel Committee said it was "deeply anxious about Liu Xia's situation" and called upon the Chinese authorities to "lift all restrictions they have put upon her".

Liu, who died aged 61, was transferred from prison to First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in late May. "We call for the immediate release of Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, whose house arrest is clearly detention by another name". This manifesto demanded democratic reforms in China by peaceful means.

"All the willpower and force we put behind freeing Liu Xiaobo, we have turned to Liu Xia", he said, calling on the United States and Germany to continue pressuring China to free Liu Xia. "We call on relevant countries to respect China's judicial sovereignty and not to meddle in China's domestic affairs with this individual case".

The German government is urging China to allow imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo to leave the country for medical treatment. She suffers from depression. "The danger was extremely great", Liu Yunpeng said.

When Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, visited him in prison to give him news of the award, "His first reaction was not happiness or pride", Yu Jie recalls.

The Chinese government revealed he had liver cancer in late June only after it was virtually beyond treatment.

China punished Norway by suspending political and economic ties - including salmon imports from Norway - until previous year, when Oslo promised to respect "China's core interests and major concerns".

"The future for human rights in China gets ever bleaker under the leadership of President Xi Jinping", Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said this year.

Liu was only the second Nobel Peace Prize victor to die in prison, a fact pointed to by human rights groups as an indication of the Chinese Communist Party's increasingly hard line against its critics.

Despite pleas form all over the country, he was not allowed medical parole until much later, when he was hospitalised in northeast China.

The newspaper's editorial marked a rare mention of Liu in the Chinese-language media, possibly indicating a desire to guide popular opinion amid widespread reporting of his death in the overseas press and on social media platforms such as Twitter that are blocked in China.

Amnesty International Norway's general secretary John Peder Egenæs at a memorial set up for Liu Xiaobo at the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo.

"In his fight for freedom, equality, and constitutional rule in China, Liu Xiaobo embodied the human spirit that the Nobel prize rewards", Tillerson said in a statement.

Trump isn't the first US president to tread lightly on the subject of human rights.

"Governments should send a clear message to Beijing that the principles to which Liu Xiaobo devoted his life will thrive after his tragic death", she said.

"I mourn Liu Xiaobo, the courageous fighter for human rights and freedom of expression", German Chancellor Angel Merkel's spokesman tweeted on her behalf.