Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo dies after cancer struggle
BEIJING — Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo (picture) has died, the government of the north-eastern Chinese city of Shenyang said last night.
The 61-year-old was being treated there for late stage liver cancer.
The Shenyang legal bureau said Liu had suffered multiple organ failure and efforts to save him had failed.
Liu was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped to write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms. He was recently moved from jail to a hospital. The police have kept his wife Liu Xia under house arrest and prevented her from speaking about his death and his belated cancer treatment.
“Can’t operate, can’t do radiotherapy, can’t do chemotherapy,” Mrs Liu said in a video message to a friend when her husband’s fatal condition was announced. The message spread quickly online. His illness elicited a deluge of sympathy from friends, Chinese rights activists and international groups, who saw him as a fearless advocate of peaceful democratic change.
He is the first Nobel Peace laureate to die in state custody since Carl von Ossietzky, the German pacifist who won the prize in 1935 and died under guard in 1938.
“The reaction to his illness shows how much he was respected,” said Cui Weiping, a former professor of literature in Beijing who knew Liu and now lives in Los Angeles. “People from all walks of life — friends, strangers, young people — have been outraged to hear that someone with terminal cancer was kept locked up till he died.”
Liu is also known for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Mr Yu, a friend and biographer who now lives in the United States, added: “He was a dissident even among dissidents. Liu Xiaobo was willing to criticise himself and reflect on his actions in a way even many activists in the democracy movement can’t.” AGENCIES