BULLETIN: Chinese dissident writer Liu XiaoBo dies of cancer, age 61

BULLETIN: Chinese dissident writer Liu XiaoBo dies of cancer, age 61
Nobel laureate Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波, who had been imprisoned in China in 2009 on charges of subversion, has died in a Liaoning hospital at age 61, news media reported today. Liu was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer earlier this year, and released on a medical parole in May. But his condition did not improve, and his health rapidly declined in the last two weeks. Doctors reported his internal organs were shutting down two days ago, but dialysis seemed to improve his condition somewhat. The writer co-authored Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto which urged the Chinese Communist Party to abide by the Chinese constitution’s protection of civil rights and political freedom. In 2009 he was arrested on charges of “subversion of state power” and sentenced to 11 years in prison. A year later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia, as China refused permission for Liu or any member of his family to travel to Oslo to accept the prize. Liu Xia, his wife, has been under house arrest since 2010, despite no formal charges against her. She was allowed to visit her husband in hospital, however. As the government has heavily censored news of Liu and his Nobel ...

Chinese Nobel laureate Liu XiaoBo in critical condition

Chinese Nobel laureate Liu XiaoBo in critical condition
Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波 is in critical condition in a Chinese hospital, the South China Morning Post reported today. A medical team is on standby to resuscitate him if necessary. Liu, 61, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and released from prison on medical parole in May. One of the principal authors of Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto, Liu was arrested and convicted in 2009 on charges of subverting state power. In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government had ignored international appeals for his release until his health deteriorated earlier this year. Since May Liu has been treated in a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province. His condition rapidly worsened last week. Two foreign doctors recommended he be flown to an overseas hospital for more aggressive treatments, but his Chinese doctors claim he is too weak to be moved. This quote from the South China Morning Post suggests it is the government that has advised against moving Liu, however. Asked on Monday if Liu would be allowed to go overseas for treatment, Reuters reported that foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “China hopes relevant countries will respect China’s sovereignty and ...

China ranks near the bottom in 2015 World Press Freedom Index

Not that it should surprise anyone, China, at #176 of 180, is among those nations ranking lowest in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders this week. The organization cites continuing government pressure on journalists and authors, including trumped-up criminal charges and incarcerations, as reasons for China’s rank near the bottom with Vietnam, Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea. The Kong Kong SAR ranks in the middle at #70. The RSF cited self-censorhip by domestic and foreign media outlets in the wake of the long Occupy Central protests, as well as pressure from the Beijing government on the ostensibly autonomous region. The Macau SAR is not included on the list. RSF ranked the USA at #49 in the “yellow zone,” saying this: In the United States, 2014 was marked by judicial harassment of New York Times investigative reporter James Risen in connection with the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer charged under the Espionage Act with giving him classified information. US journalists are still not protected by a federal shield law that would guarantee their right not to name their sources or reveal other confidential information about their work. Meanwhile, at least 15 journalists ...

Tian’anmen Square protests, 25 years on

JISHOU, HUNAN — In the spring of 1989, hundreds of thousands of Chinese university students, intellectuals and other citizens occupied Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, demanding greater civil rights and social freedom to parallel China’s new free-market economic policies. The protests ended in bloody clashes between protesters, police and the army on June 4, leaving 2,600 dead and 2,000 injured, according to Red Cross estimates. In addition. 400 soldiers went missing. Other organizations have higher casualty estimates, and as high as 5,000 dead. In any event, it was one of the bloodiest events in recent Chinese history, and a protest movement that has yet to be repeated. Officially, the protests and the crackdown allegedly authorized by then-Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping 邓小平 never happened. China’s history books and the national history museum say nothing about the Tian’anmen protests, and if they do, no mention is made of the thousands of casualties. The government’s censors have blocked Internet searches of the event, and even the date. Searching Wikipedia’s English and Chinese sites will get you nowhere. (I used the Spanish site to check my facts. You Anglophiles can use the English site if you prefer — if you’re outside mainland China.) In the ...

Dissidents released just before Chinese premier visits the UK

JISHOU, CHINA — What a coincidence. Days before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited British Prime Minister David Cameron to sign trade deals worth $2.2 billion, Chinese officials released two prominent dissidents, Ai WeiWei and Hu Jia. Cameron, pro forma, gave some lip service to preserving human rights as he signed the trade agreements worth £1.4 billion, while Wen gave the usual Chinese reply — “MYOB” — though somewhat more diplomatically than my shorter version. Last week, Ai, an internationally known artist, was finally released on bail after being picked up in a Hong Kong airport three months ago and kept virtually incognito. He was charged officially with tax evasion, but he also has been a vocal political gadfly in China. Ai has been publicizing the names of students who died when their “tofu-construction” schools collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The state news agency reported Ai, 54, was released because he had confessed to his crimes and because he was in poor health. Prior to his arrest, Ai, his family and his associates denied any tax evasion. Hu, 37, was also released at the end of his a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence on Sunday, which apparently was his official release date. ...

Chinese authorities charge Ai WeiWei with tax evasion, bigamy

JISHOU, HUNAN — Take this news with a grain of salt, since it comes from official sources via The AP. Dissident artist Ai WeiWei, who has been detained for the last two weeks, has been charged with tax evasion, destroying evidence and bigamy. No figures were given regarding how much tax Ai owes (if any), and his family has denied the charges, anyway. “He has made the government unhappy by speaking up for ordinary people,” Ai’s sister Gao Ge told The Associated Press. “Now the government wants to get him back.” Ai has been openly critical of government officials, challenging them through China’s own legal system to uphold constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and equal protection under the law. He was a public supporter of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is serving a 11-year sentence in China for “inciting subversion of state power.” (As in co-authoring Charter ’08, a call for more democracy in China. Very subversive. Yeah.) The government newspaper Wen Wei Po, which is published in Hong Kong, has been smearing Ai as part of the government’s efforts to discredit him. In addition to the tax evasion charge, he is being held for allegedly ...
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