For the second time ever in the history of the world, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has died in confinement and the world is grieved for obvious reasons.
A Chinese human rights activist, writer, literary critic and Nobel Peace Prize awardee, Liu Xiaobo, died of liver cancer on July 13, 2017 in China.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8, 2010 “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”. However, as the Chinese administration wasn’t quite happy with his campaign, its reaction to the award was negative. In fact, it also tried to censor the news of Xiaobo getting Nobel, but the news ultimately could not be stopped and became available to the public later during the day.
Since the Chinese government had extreme dislike for Xiaobo and his efforts for ending one-party rule in China, 61-year-old Xiaobo had spent more than a quarter of his life behind bars for his demands. After co-writing a petition that called for democratic reforms, he was jailed in 2008 and since a year later, had been serving his 11-year term in jail for “subversion”.
In the month of May this year, Xiaobo was diagnosed with advanced stage of liver cancer and was granted a medical parole on June 26, 2017. But eventually, could not survive the disease and died under guard in a hospital in China.
The Chinese government released a video that tried to show that everything possible was done to treat and save Xiaobo. However, the world can’t stop criticizing it for the fact that the dying wish of Xiaobo, to go abroad for treatment, was denied.
In China, news of Xiaobo’s death is heavily censored and wherever he is mentioned, he is referred to as a convicted criminal.
As Xiaobo passed away under miserable conditions, the world can’t stop criticizing China for keeping Liu under confinement for such a long time and even preventing him from traveling abroad for treatment.
Britain criticized China for preventing Xiaobo for travelling overseas for medical care. Germany expresses regret that its offer to host Liu was ignored by Beijing while the President of France remembered him as a “freedom fighter”.
Condemning the arrest of Xiaobo, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN human rights commissioner, said that Liu was “jailed for standing up for his beliefs”.
The European Union and the Unites States paid tribute to Xiaobo on his death. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, said that he mourned the loss of a man whose entire life was dedicated to the betterment of his country, humankind and in pursuit of justice and liberty.
Here are some Twitter reactions of people and media houses about Liu:
— Gordon G. Chang (@GordonGChang) July 15, 2017
Liu Xiaobo raises questions for China in life and in death https://t.co/LyDjqsU1Y5
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) July 15, 2017
Liu Xiaobo cremated in ‘private ceremony’, amid growing fears for wife’s safety https://t.co/yWmSpqP4n3
— The Guardian (@guardian) July 15, 2017
China Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo’s dying wish was denied https://t.co/gDj4eFkv1w
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 14, 2017
Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo’s life and death have been thoroughly censored in China — Quartz https://t.co/FmA3EiqEFv
— Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) July 15, 2017
BBC News – Liu Xiaobo: The man China couldn’t erase https://t.co/9iazGVdK6D
— Justin Gwalem (@gwalem) July 15, 2017
— denise tsang (@denise_tsang) July 15, 2017
— EconomicTimes (@EconomicTimes) July 14, 2017
My dad sent me this poem after Liu Xiaobo’s death.
“You want to bury him / bury into the dirt / but you forget / he is a seed” pic.twitter.com/qMuLUd0pfE
— Nicole Hong (@nicole_hong) July 13, 2017
Saddened by the loss of Liu Xiaobo – inspiring champion for human rights. China must let his wife Liu Xia go.
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) July 14, 2017
“His crime was to write a petition calling for democracy…”
RIP Liu Xiaobo. https://t.co/276H8q02QU
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) July 15, 2017
Donald Trump, however, appears to be thinking otherwise. At a joint press conference with the President of France, Trump said that Xi Jinping is a very good man, he loves China and wants to do what is right for the country.
As Xiaobo died confined and in suffering in China, the world’s attention has turned to the fate of his wife. Many nations across the world have urged the government of China to allow his widow, Liu Xia, to leave the country. It is important to note that Liu Xia has been living in China under house arrest since 2010.
Doctors in China said that Xia was by her husband’s side during his last moments. In his final words, Xiaobo told her to “live well”. But according to media reports, following the death of her husband, Xia’s whereabouts have been kept secret by the Chinese administration and her contact with the outside world has been restricted.
Friends and supporters of the Nobel laureate and his wife say that the administration could force her back into house arrest, despite the fact that she has not been accused of any crime.
Jared Genser, an American lawyer who represented Liu, said that all contact with Xia had been curbed in the past 48 hours and said that he was deeply worried about what’s happening to her.
After confining Xiaobo even during his last moments, the Chinese government still seems to be discontented and is trying to seek control of his funeral, too. As per a report from The Guardian, the authorities were pressurizing Liu’s family to cremate his body quickly. It is quite likely that it has already happened on Friday in a simple farewell ceremony. Reportedly, a national ban has also been imposed on activists hoping to attend Liu’s funeral.
In fact, according to recent media reports, Liu has actually been cremated in a private ceremony held early Saturday morning in Shenyang where he died. A government spokesman said that the ceremony was attended by his wife and other family members but according to Liu’s friends and supporters, Chinese security services had ordered his family not to travel to Shenyang.
As the country faced a barrage of denunciation over Xiaobo’s death, it called awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to him a “blasphemy”. On Friday, Geng Shuang, spokesman of Foreign Ministry of China said that the country has lodged protests against some countries for interference in its “judicial sovereignty”.
The Times of India quotes Geng saying,
Conferring the prize to such a person goes against the purposes of this award. It’s a blasphemy of the peace prize.