Who is Liu Xiaobo? The Chinese Nobel laureate who has been granted medical parole

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been released on medical parole. Here’s everything you need to know.

Who is Liu and why was he jailed?

Hong Kong China Jailed Nobel Laureate
On Tuesday protesters wearing masks of Liu gathered outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP)

Liu, 61, has worked as a literary critic and university lecturer in Beijing and was involved in the 1989 student protests in Tiananmen Square. As a result, he was imprisoned for two years, and later he served three years in a labour camp for criticising China’s one-party system.

According to his biography on the Nobel Prize website: “For over 20 years, Liu has fought for a more open and democratic China.”

In 2008, he was arrested after co-authoring Charta 08: “A manifesto which advocates the gradual shifting of China’s political and legal system in the direction of democracy.”

In 2009 he was sentenced to 11 years in jail for engaging in activities designed to overthrow the government.

What about his Nobel Peace Prize?

Hong Kong China Jailed Nobel Laureate
Protesters gathered in Hong Kong, but Liu is currently in hospital in the north-eastern city of Shenyang (Vincent Yu/AP)

In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – a move that greatly angered the Chinese government. It made him the first Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Prize whilst living in China.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said he was awarded the prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.

The Committee released a statement yesterday celebrating his release but expressing regret that it took illness for him to be freed. They wrote: “He was, essentially, convicted for exercising his freedom of speech and should never have been sentenced to jail in the first place.

“Finally, the Committee would like to confirm its standing invitation to Liu Xiaobo to come to Oslo and receive the Committee’s tribute.”

Why has he been granted medical parole?

Hong Kong China Jailed Nobel Laureate
Protesters are displaying pictures of both Liu and his wife Liu Xia, who is also currently detained (Vincent Yu/AP)

On May 23 Liu was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer.

Liu’s lawyer Mo Shaoping said Liu is being treated and is in a stable condition at China Medical University No 1 Affiliated Hospital in the north-eastern city of Shenyang.

It is not known if Liu is being allowed visitors.


 

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