Liu Xiaobo, the famed Chinese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize while jailed for his pro-democracy writings, has died in a hospital in northeastern China at the age of 61.
The Chinese judicial bureau said Liu died Thursday of multiple organ failure. Liu had terminal liver cancer and had been granted parole in June after his diagnosis but remained under virtual house arrest.
A prominent champion of democracy, free expression and constitutionalism since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Liu had been jailed four times and — when freed last month — was eight years into an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.” When Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, the committee saluted his “long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”
Chinese authorities barred Liu’s family and closest friends from attending the Nobel ceremony in Norway’s Oslo City Hall; for many of them, detentions, threats and intimidation were, and continue to be, a feature of daily life.
“This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate,” said Nobel committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland when the award was presented in 2010. Liu’s medal and diploma were placed on an empty chair.
It was the first time a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded under such circumstances since 1936, when Nazi Germany barred German journalist Carl von Ossietzky from traveling to Oslo to claim the prize. Among Chinese free-thinkers, the empty chair — and Liu himself — stood as symbols of resistance.latimes