The New York Times reports: Liu Xiaobo, China’s only Nobel Peace Prize laureate, catapulted to fame in 1989, when the Communist Party’s violent crackdown on protests in Tiananmen Square created an international uproar.
Now, nearly three decades later, Mr. Liu has died of cancer while in state custody, a bedridden and silenced example of Western governments’ inability, or reluctance, to push back against China’s resurgent authoritarians.
Mr. Liu’s fate reflects how human rights issues have receded in Western diplomacy with China. And it shows how Chinese Communist Party leaders, running a strong state bristling with security powers, can disdain foreign pleas, even for a man near death.
“It’s certainly become more difficult,” said John Kamm, an American businessman and founder of the Dui Hua Foundation, who for decades has quietly lobbied China to free or improve the treatment of political prisoners. He said his attempts to win approval for Mr. Liu to leave China for treatment, as Mr. Liu and his wife requested, got nowhere.
“I tried my best. I did everything I could,” he said before Mr. Liu died. “Things are pretty difficult right now. It’s hard for me to get the kinds of responses I need.” [Continue reading…]
Nicholas Kristof writes: The Mandela of our age is dead, and Liu Xiaobo will at least now find peace after decades of suffering outrageous mistreatment by the Chinese authorities.
Liu, 61, is the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in custody since the Nazi era, and his death is an indictment of China’s brutal treatment of one of the great figures of modern times.
Even as Liu was dying of cancer, China refused to allow Liu to travel for treatment that might have saved his life. In a move that felt crass and disgusting, the Chinese authorities filmed the dying Liu without his consent to make propaganda films falsely depicting merciful treatment of him.
In the coming weeks, China will probably try to dispose of Liu’s remains in a way that will prevent his grave from becoming a democratic pilgrimage spot. The authorities no doubt will attempt to bully and threaten Liu’s brave widow, Liu Xia, and perhaps confine her indefinitely under house arrest to keep her silent.
Will Western leaders speak up for her? I fear not, any more than they forcefully spoke up for Liu Xiaobo himself. [Continue reading…]