Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo dies of liver cancer at age 61

2017/07/13 21:42:24 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Liu Xiaobo (CNA file photo)

Liu Xiaobo (CNA file photo)

Taipei, July 13 (CNA) Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), China's most famous political prisoner and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died on Thursday at the age of 61 after battling liver cancer, Chinese authorities confirmed.

Liu, who had late-stage liver cancer, died of multiple organ failures, according to the justice bureau of Shenyang City.

The Nobel laureate was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in May and was granted medical parole for treatment at the First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang the following month. His condition had deteriorated quickly since then, with the hospital suspending targeted therapy last week.

The Chinese government had come under fire for refusing to allow Liu to travel abroad for treatment, despite calls from human rights activists, foreign governments, as well as Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, for China to do so.

The pro-democracy advocate was jailed in 2009 for co-authoring a manifesto -- Charter 08 -- calling for sweeping political reforms in China. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power."

Born on Dec. 28, 1955 in China's Jilin Province, Liu graduated with a bachelor's degree in literature from Jilin University in 1982 and a PhD degree in literature from Beijing Normal University in 1988.

In 1989, Liu, then a visiting scholar at Columbia University, returned to Beijing to participate in the 1989 democracy movement in China and started a hunger strike at Tiananmen Square with other activists.

He convinced some of the student protesters to leave the square before the tanks rolled in, saving many lives.

Since 1989, Liu's pro-democracy activism has landed him in jail four times. In 2008, he helped co-author Charter 08 and was arrested for the fourth time the following year.

Charter 08 called for separation of powers, legislative democracy, an independent judiciary, a guarantee of human rights, freedom of association, assembly, expression and religion, and other democratic reforms.

"I have no enemies and no hatred," Liu famously wrote in an essay before his trial in 2009.

"None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies," he wrote.

"Hatred can rot away at a person's intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society's tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation's progress toward freedom and democracy," he wrote.

"That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation's development and social change, to counter the regime's hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love."

In 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China."

He was represented by an empty chair at the Nobel ceremony in Oslo that year because he was imprisoned and could not attend the ceremony.

(By Christie Chen and Elaine Hou)

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