China’s Most Famous Political Prisoner and Nobel Prize Winner Dies at 61

Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize winner, champion of human rights and democracy, and Chinese political prisoner has died at the age of of 61 from terminal liver cancer.

The activist and university professor, who was jailed for 11 years on charges of subversion and considered by the state as a criminal, was only recently moved to a hospital for treatment, according to the BBC.

Throughout his career, Liu was either jailed multiple times or kept under severe restrictions while his wife, poet Liu Xia, was kept under house arrest.

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Liu was a prominent figure during the Tiananmen Square massacre in June of 1989 where he negotiated the safe exit of hundreds of student protesters in an event that ended in bloodshed when the Chinese government sent in troops. For his role, Liu was placed in a detention center and released in 1991.

Liu continued to campaign for Tiananmen Square protesters who were arrested — he was subsequently put in a labor camp in north-eastern China for three years.

While in the labor camp, he was still allowed to marry his wife Liu Xia in 1996.

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As Liu continued to campaign for democracy, he and a group of like-minded intellectuals produced a manifesto calling for an end to the one-party rule system in favor of a democratic system of multiple systems that came to be known as Charter 08.

Liu was found guilty of trying to overthrow the state and was sentenced to 11 years in jail in 2009 — the last jail sentence he would ever receive.

Diagnosed with liver cancer, the Chinese government refused his last request to be allowed to go abroad for treatment.

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In 2010, Liu, who was in prison at the time, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Liu was not permitted to go to Norway to accept the award. On his death, the Nobel Committee stated that the “Chinese government bore a heavy responsibility for his premature death.”

Liu died peacefully surrounded by his wife and other relatives, according to a doctor who treated him.

His last words to his wife were, “Live on well,” according to the South China Morning Post.

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