Thursday, 13 July 2017

Liu's Day has Come

Artist Ai Weiwei's Lego portrait of Liu Xiaobo
Anyone who has been reading the news of the deteriorating health of dissident Liu Xiaobo has been dreading this day, but it has come. He died today at the age of 61.

He is the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who won the prize in 1935 during the Nazi era.

This will be a dark stain on Chinese President Xi Jinping's legacy and the Chinese Communist Party that is desperately trying to win over the rest of the world through soft and hard power.

Letting Liu leave the country in his last days and hours would have been the humanitarian thing to do, and win Xi points on the world stage, but this is not how the president operates, as he has taken a harder line than any recent previous leaders.

China didn't want to be seen as giving in to Liu's last wishes of leaving the country in the hopes that his wife Liu Xia would have a better life.

Perhaps even more outrageous is that Liu's liver cancer diagnosis was announced at such a late stage that there was nothing any doctor or treatment could do. This appears to be a deliberate move so that no one could do anything.

At the same time, Liu's health condition had to be announced to avoid China being accused of killing him in prison, which would have raised issues of his treatment in incarceration.

While we are outraged at how the Chinese government treated Liu, where were all the world leaders speaking out about violating his human right to proper medical treatment? They are too scared to anger China with economies dependent on the country to stay afloat.

Liu can now rest in peace, but what of his wife? She will probably remain under some kind of house arrest, though she is the innocent bystander in all of this. Liu Xia is emotionally fragile and surely his death will make it even harder to keep going.

PEN America will be holding a vigil tonight in New York and we will probably see other groups hold similar events tonight and in the next day or so.

Liu was China's moral compass and he has died knowing he has done his part for his country.


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