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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

TLHRC Co-Chairs: Liu Xiaobo Will Not Be Forgotten

Jul 14, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressmen Jim McGovern and Randy Hultgren, Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, issued the following statement on the death in Chinese custody of Nobel Peace laureate and Defending Freedoms Project prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo.

“We are greatly saddened by the news of the untimely death of human rights defender and Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has succumbed to liver cancer after years of incommunicado imprisonment in China. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Liu Xia, herself a model of strength and integrity, and for whose own safety and well-being we voice concern. The world has been deprived of a beloved advocate for human rights and democracy.

“As we mourn, we are also appalled by the Chinese government’s treatment of Mr. Liu, who was serving an unjust 11-year prison sentence for the ‘crime’ of co-authoring the Charter 08 democracy manifesto. Chinese authorities only revealed his diagnosis a few weeks ago, by which time his illness was likely beyond treatment. Mr. Liu was supposedly granted medical parole, but after his transfer from prison to a hospital, he was kept under police guard, denied the opportunity to travel abroad for treatment, and prohibited from meeting with friends and well-wishers. His wife, Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010 although she has never been accused of any crime, was finally allowed to visit him, but was prevented from contacting others. We can only imagine the added pain of her enforced solitude as her husband lay dying.

“With Liu Xiaobo’s fate in its hands, the Chinese government failed to respect his dignity, uphold its international legal obligations, or demonstrate the slightest moral capacity. Mr. Liu is the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in state custody since pacifist Carl von Ossietzky lost his life to tuberculosis in 1938 while incarcerated in a hospital in Nazi Germany. What terrible company China has chosen.

“Liu Xiaobo has died, but he will not be forgotten. It now falls to all of us who believe in human rights and democracy to continue to fight for his vision of China, best expressed in his own words:

“‘I look forward to (the day) when my country is a land with freedom of expression, where the speech of every citizen will be treated equally well; where different values, ideas, beliefs, and political views ... can both compete with each other and peacefully coexist; where both majority and minority views will be equally guaranteed, and where the political views that differ from those currently in power, in particular, will be fully respected and protected; where all political views will spread out under the sun for people to choose from, where every citizen can state political views without fear, and where no one can under any circumstances suffer political persecution for voicing divergent political views. I hope that I will be the last victim of China's endless literary inquisitions and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech.’”

115th Congress