Free Tibet statement on the death of Liu Xiaobo, 13 July 2017

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Chinese professor, human rights activist and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo has died. He was 61 years old. He had been diagnosed with late-stage cancer of the liver in May this year while serving an 11 year prison sentence. The Chinese government resisted international pressure calling for Liu Xiaobo to be permitted to travel overseas for medical treatment and care.

Liu Xiaobo expressed support for greater freedom for Tibet and its people. In 1996 he wrote a joint letter to Jiang Zemin, the then President of China, calling for dialogue with the Dalai Lama and expressing his support for self-determination for Tibet. As a result, he was sentenced to three years in a labour camp. Liu Xiaobo appears to be the first Chinese person to be sent to prison for speaking up for Tibet.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

Liu Xiaobo’s death is a huge tragedy, both for his family and for human rights in China. It is also a sad day for Tibet; as well as being a dedicated and passionate proponent of peace and human rights, Liu Xiaobo was a friend of Tibet. He risked his safety to stand up for the rights of its people and dared to call for negotiations over its future, knowing the punishments this could bring.

The appalling treatment of Liu Xiaobo by Beijing is emblematic of a government that has a complete disregard for human rights and that cannot comprehend nor deal with those brave enough to stand up for them. The world must mourn Liu Xiaobo’s death, and then follow his example.

We send our sincere condolences to Liu Xiaobo’s family on this sad day.

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