Jailed Nobel laureate seeks more attention for lesser known activists

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Originally published by IANS on December 12, 2014

China’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiabo, who is serving a 11-year sentence in prison for inciting subversion, Friday called for the world to pay more attention to the fate of lesser known Chinese rights activists.

He said this in a message to his writer friend, Liao Yiwu, who lives in Berlin.

Liao, whose own books are banned in China, posted the message on his Facebook profile. Its authenticity was confirmed to Efe news agency by close family friends such as the activist Hu Jia.

“I am OK here in prison, I have continually been able to read and think. In my studies, I have become even more convinced that I have no personal enemies. The halo around me is shiny enough by now. I wish the world would pay more attention to other victims who are not as well known, or not known at all,” the message read.

Liao, who did not disclose the source of the message, said he was happy to hear from Liu after more than six years without hearing anything about him.

“I don’t know how to express my feelings,” he wrote on Facebook, recalling that Liu still has to complete almost half of his sentence.

Liu received the Nobel Prize in 2010 while in prison, after his arrest in 2008 for writing the manifesto “Charter 08”, in which he and other Chinese intellectuals demanded greater democratic reforms in China.

Inspired by Czechoslovakia’s “Charter 77”, the manifesto was a moderate request for a political transition to a constitutional democracy, while calling for the end of single-party rule, the organisation Chinese Human Rights Defenders says.

Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle for political reforms in China. The award’s organising committee left an empty chair in his honour during the ceremony in Oslo, a gesture that was condemned by Beijing.

Soon after, Chinese authorities put Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest in retaliation for the prize, according to human rights organisations.

Hu Jia confirmed that Liu is still in prison, is living under better conditions than other dissidents and once more regretted Liu’s political imprisonment and his wife’s illegal house arrest.

In December 2013, Liu Xia released a statement denouncing the isolation that she has been suffering since 2010, causing health-related and economic problems that led her to be temporarily admitted in a hospital in February this year.


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