China: Veteran dissident in hospital, media remains silent

A women holds a placard at a protest calling for Liu Xiaobo's release. Credit: Richard A. Brooks/AFP

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) raises serious concerns for the welfare of well-known Chinese dissident and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo. The IFJ calls on the Chinese government to immediately release Liu and grant him permission to travel overseas for medical treatment.Liu Xiaobo, 61, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 after he was convicted of ‘inciting the subversion of state power’ after he co-authored a pro-democracy petition and manifesto, known as Charter 08. On June 26, news surfaced that Liu had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in late May. He was granted medical parole and is in the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang. However, reports suggest that due to his medical condition the medical team have not been able to operate or start chemotherapy for LiuAfter news broke of his medical condition, a video of Liu Xia, his wife was released online. In the video, Liu Xia is crying and said that Liu cannot undergo surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.Liu’s lawyers have confirmed that he was diagnosed with cancer and that he was transferred to hospital on medical parole.While news of Liu’s hospitalisation has received widespread coverage in international media, little to no local media have covered the story. According to local media, the provincial government issued an order to the media that said no media could report, comment or forward’ information about Liu. A current online search of Liu Xiaobo on the Mainland only brings up old stories from 2009-2011, nothing published this year.Liu is a well-known dissident in China. He was a key figure in the student-led protests in Beijing in 1989. In 2010, his pro-democracy writings saw him become the first Chinese person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.International media have criticised the treatment of Liu, and raised serious questions about his late diagnosis and if this is due to poor treatment in detention.  The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “Liu Xiaobo has become a figure in the fight for freedom of expression and speech in China. We are concerned for his medical condition and call on the government to take immediate steps to ensure the release of Liu Xiaobo from custody so that he can receive the best medical care available.”We urge President Xi to uphold his empathy to direct the government to stop harassing Liu Xia and return her freedom of movement and can be stayed with her husband.   

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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