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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Dr. Liu Xiaobo

Dr. Liu Xiaobo is a Chinese scholar and democracy activist who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion on December 25, 2009.  On October 8, 2010, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Dr. Liu the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize “in recognition of his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”  Shortly after the announcement, Chinese authorities isolated Dr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, from her supporters, the media and foreign diplomats; she remains under house arrest without charge.

The Chinese government previously detained Dr. Liu for his peaceful activities on three occasions, including during the crackdown following the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.  In 2008, Dr. Liu was one of the primary drafters of Charter 08, a political manifesto that calls for peaceful democratic reform and respect for the rule of law and human rights in China.  The Chinese government detained Dr. Liu on December 8, 2008—two days before the official release of Charter ‘08. The government held Dr. Liu at an unknown location without access to a lawyer for nearly six months and then formally arrested him on June 23, 2009.

On December 23, 2009, Dr. Liu was tried for “inciting subversion.”  His wife along with foreign diplomats and journalists were not allowed to attend the trial.  The proceeding lasted only two hours and the court limited Dr. Liu’s lawyers to 14 minutes in which to defend against the charges. On December 25, 2009, the court sentenced Dr. Liu to 11 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights.  In the verdict, Dr. Liu’s participation in the production of pro-democracy essays, including Charter 08, was cited as evidence against him. Xiaobo remains in jail but in June 2014, the United States named the Washington D.C. road in front of the Chinese embassy after him.