IFJ and press freedom groups demand immediate release of Liu Xiaobo

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), Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have written to the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, to demand the immediate release of dissident Liu Xiaobo, and permission for he and his wife to travel overseas for urgent medical treatment.

On May 23, Liu, who is currently serving an 11 year sentence for ‘inciting subversion of state power’, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. His diagnosis was not reported until June 26, when it was announced that he had been granted medical parole and hospitalised in Shenyang. However, due to his critical condition, his medical is yet to operate or start his chemotherapy treatment.

Liu Xiaobo is a veteran writer and dissident, was the first Chinese recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was he was awarded for his writings promoting democracy. He was jailed in 2009, for helping write a petition in 2008 which called for widespread political liberalisation in China. The document, Charter 08, was signed by hundreds of activists and scholars.

President Xi has been questioned about Liu’s case. On June 29, a Hong Kong journalist posed a question to President Xi about Liu, but President Xi left without answering the question. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that Liu’s case is a matter of ‘internal affairs’ and has refused to release any further information.

Several dissidents reported receiving warnings not to talk about or voice their opinions of Liu’s case. Gao Yu, a veteran journalist who was jailed for allegedly sharing state secrets with foreign media has been warned to stop posting her opinion about Liu and his case on twitter by the authorities. Bao Tong, a former aide to the ousted Premier of China, Zhao Ziyang, said that he was warned to stop sharing his opinions and decline media requests. While Zhou Duo, who participated in a hunger strike with Liu at Tiananmen Square in 1989, was detained by security agents, along with his wife, for raising concerns about Liu’s health.

IFJ, Freedom House and RSF urged President Xi to intervene, and grant permission for Liu and his wife to travel for medical treatment, as well as releasing Liu’s wife, Liu Xia from house arrest.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “The situation facing Liu Xiaobo requires the urgent attention of the President of China, to take immediate action. We stand with RSF and Freedom House in demanding Liu’s immediate release and permission to travel overseas for urgent medical treatment. We call on President Xi to take this opportunity to show his commitment to the well-being to the people of China.”

The IFJ also calls on journalists covering the up-coming G20 Summit in Germany to raise questions to President Xi on Liu’s case and call on the President to grant permission to Liu to leave China.

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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