China’s most prominent dissident, Liu Xiaobo, has died at the age of 61. The Nobel Prize winner was serving an 11-year prison sentence. Born in 1955 in the city of Changchun, Liu Xiaobo is most known for his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Among other things, he led a hunger strike. The protests were met with violence from the government. His involvement resulted in a 21-month prison sentence, the first of four in his life.
In 2009, he wrote a manifesto, Charter 08, that called for political reform and criticised the government for failing to produce a democratic China. He was then jailed on 25th December 2009 and sentenced to 11 years in prison for “subversion.”
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” He is the only Chinese citizen to receive the award. Due to his imprisonment he was unable to accept it. The Chinese government reacted by briefly suspending trade with Norway.
In May 2017, Liu was diagnosed with liver cancer. The Nobel Committee have said that “the Chinese Government bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death.” Many across the globe called for him to be released so that he could seek medical assistance abroad. Western doctors that visited him have said that he was healthy enough to travel but Chinese officials claimed he was too unwell. He died on the 13th July 2017 in the company of his wife, Liu Xia, who is currently under house arrest. Chinese coverage of Liu Xiaobo’s death has been minimal. State-controlled Global Times said he was “a victim led astray” by the west.