7 October 2011

Campaigns and Advocacy

Human Rights Watch calls for release of Nobel laureate and others wrongly jailed, disappeared


UPDATE: Call for Liu Xiaobo's release at "Art against censorship in China" special event (RSF, 18 April 2012)

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, October 7, 2011 - The Chinese government should free the unjustly imprisoned Chinese writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, Human Rights Watch said today, a year after the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to award him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Human Rights Watch urged all governments represented at the December 2010 Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo to use the anniversary of the announcement of the prize on October 8, 2010, to call for Liu's freedom and for an end to the illegal persecution of his family and supporters.

"The Chinese government is put on notice when presidents and prime ministers publicly express concern about the treatment of people like Liu," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. "All those who demonstrated support for him should press for his release and for an end to the persecution of others like him."

In early October, the Chinese government allowed Liu's brothers to release information that Liu had been allowed out of prison briefly on September 18 to see family members. They also said that Liu's wife, Liu Xia, who has been held under legally baseless house arrest since the prize was announced, was allowed to visit Liu Xiaobo in August. Liu's brothers' reports of Liu's apparent good health were positive news, Human Rights Watch said, but the Chinese government's consistent refusal until those visits to allow him the family visits permitted under criminal law are cause for serious concern.

That this information was made available in the days before the Nobel anniversary, a time of renewed interest in Liu's case, reflects the Chinese government's calculated and cynical strategy to blunt international criticism, underscoring the extent to which Chinese authorities will go to avoid negative publicity, Human Rights Watch said.

Liu, a well-known writer and critic, was arrested on December 8, 2008, for his involvement in drafting "Charter 08," a pro-democracy and human rights manifesto consciously modeled on Charter 77, the petition drawn up by Czechoslovakian writers and intellectuals in 1989, before the fall of the Communist government. Beijing police held Liu incommunicado and in violation of Chinese law, without access to legal counsel, under a form of detention called "residential surveillance" at an undisclosed location in Beijing until June 23, 2009.

On December 29, 2009, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of "inciting subversion." Since the announcement of the Nobel prize, Beijing police have clamped down on Liu's family, friends, and supporters. In addition to Liu Xia's house arrest, all the principal signatories and co-drafters of Charter 08 have been under tight police surveillance, prevented from meeting one another or giving interviews to the media, and denied the right to travel abroad.

In response to the popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, the Chinese government in mid-February began its most severe crackdown on lawyers, bloggers, artists, writers, and others in more than a decade, placing some of them under house arrest. In an alarming trend, Human Rights Watch said, at least 24 people, including the activist artist Ai Weiwei and the human rights lawyer Teng Biao, have been victims of enforced disappearances. Even after they were released, the government imposed onerous restrictions on their freedom of expression and association. A total of 52 others, including the housing rights activist Ni Yulan, have been silenced with specious criminal charges such as "inciting a disturbance."

"The Chinese government has made its assault on basic human rights in the past year painfully clear," Richardson said. "The onus is on governments that say they support human rights to demonstrate consistently, publicly, and unapologetically their grave concern about the treatment of Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xia, and all the others wrongly jailed or disappeared."

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More on this case

Video depicts Chinese Nobel laureate's wife under house arrest 15 October 2012 Media group bans journalists from speaking of Xiaobo case 13 December 2010 Get Liu Xiaobo out of prison in time for Nobel prize ceremony 10 November 2010 RSF calls for Liu Xiaobo's release as Chinese president makes state visit to France 8 November 2010 Harassment and propaganda in the three weeks since the Nobel announcement 29 October 2010 IFJ concerned about serious restrictions placed on journalists reporting on Liu and Chen cases 20 October 2010 Arrests, censorship and propaganda in reaction to Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize 15 October 2010 News blackout on Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize 12 October 2010 Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned Chinese writer, wins Nobel Peace Prize 8 October 2010 Liu Xiaobo transferred to remote prison in Liaoning Province 3 June 2010 Scholars and writers press for Liu Xiaobo's release 12 March 2010 IFJ demands immediate release of Liu Xiaobo 12 February 2010 PEN American Center president calls sentencing of Liu Xiaobo a "mockery" and a "scandal" 29 December 2009 Detained writer Liu Xiaobo formally indicted 11 December 2009 After one year in detention, prominent dissident's fate still uncertain 4 December 2009 PEN applauds passage of US congressional resolution for writer Liu Xiaobo 6 October 2009 Activist Liu Xiaobo formally charged, could spend 15 years in jail 29 June 2009 Imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo to receive top PEN honour 22 April 2009 Further details emerge about detained journalist 12 December 2008 Leading PEN member detained on eve of Human Rights Day; fellow activist detained and released 9 December 2008
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At this point, would publish: "Further details emerge about detained journalist"
At this point, would publish: "PEN American - Liu Xiaobo to Receive Top PEN Honor"
At this point, would publish: "Activist Liu Xiaobo formally charged, could spend 15 years in jail"
At this point, would publish: "PEN applauds passage of US congressional resolution for writer Liu Xiaobo"
At this point, would publish: "After one year in detention, prominent dissident's fate still uncertain - Liu Xiaobo"
At this point, would publish: "Detained writer Liu Xiaobo formally indicted"
At this point, would publish: "PEN American Center president calls sentencing of Liu Xiaobo a mockery and a scandal"
At this point, would publish: "IFJ demands immediate release of Liu Xiaobo"
At this point, would publish: "Scholars and writers press for Liu Xiaobo's release"
At this point, would publish: "Liu Xiaobo transferred to remote prison in Liaoning Province"
At this point, would publish: "Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned Chinese writer, wins Nobel Peace Prize"
At this point, would publish: "News blackout on Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize"
At this point, would publish: "Arrests, censorship and propaganda in reaction to Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize"
At this point, would publish: "IFJ concerned about serious restrictions placed on journalists reporting on Liu and Chen cases"
At this point, would publish: "Harassment and propaganda in the three weeks since the Nobel announcement"
At this point, would publish: "RSF calls for Liu Xiaobo's release as Chinese president makes state visit to France"
At this point, would publish: "Media group bans journalists from speaking of Xiaobo case"
At this point, would publish: "Video depicts Chinese Nobel laureate's wife under house arrest"
At this point, would publish: "Leading PEN member detained on eve of Human Rights Day; fellow activist detained and released"
 
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