China - Don't forget Liu Xiaobo, held for the past five years

by Reporters Without Borders | Reporters Without Borders
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 04:00 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Four years ago today, a Beijing court sentenced the leading Chinese free speech advocate Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, to 11 years on prison on a charge of subverting state authority.

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its full support for him and his family and stresses the importance of his fight. And it is publishing a cartoon by the French cartoonist Michel Cambon in homage to him.

"The Chinese government has tried to silence Liu Xiaobo by every means possible so it is important not to forget him on this sad anniversary," Reporters Without Borders said.

"Jailing a person does not make everyone forget his ideas; quite the contrary. The scale of the support Liu has received since his conviction proves this. The Chinese authorities, who violate freedom of information a bit more every day, need to realize the absurdity of what they are doing and release Liu without delay."

The authorities are persecuting not only Liu Xiaobo but also his wife, Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest for the past three years although she has not been charged. Harassed by the authorities, completely cut off and unable to communicate with her husband, Liu Xia is now suffering from depression.

"We extend our warm support for Liu Xia and encourage her to hold on," Reporters Without Borders added. "And we urge the authorities to end her intolerable and unjustified isolation, and to allow her to communicate with her husband."

Arrested in December 2008, Liu Xiaobo spent nearly a year in prison before being formally charged with subversion on 12 December 2009. Foreign journalists, diplomats and supporters were barred from his closely supervised trial, which ended with the 11-year jail sentence. He recently announced his intention to appeal against his conviction.

Liu Xiaobo helped to write Charter 08, a call for real democracy in China that was modelled on the charter that Czech dissidents issued in 1977. Launched on 8 December 2008, two days before the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it has been signed by more than 300 intellectuals and human rights defenders.

China is ranked 173rd out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Cartoon caption: News of Liu Xiaobo

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