Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo dies

Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who was China’s most prominent human rights and democracy advocate, has died aged 61, BBC report.

The activist had been serving an 11-year prison term for “subversion” and was recently moved to a hospital due to a terminal liver cancer.

A university professor turned tireless rights campaigner, Mr Liu was branded a criminal by authorities.

The Nobel Committee said the Chinese government “bears a heavy responsibility” for the death.

When not in prison, the campaigner was subject to severe restrictions while his wife, Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest.

Who was he?

Liu Xiaobo played a significant role in the Tiananmen protests of June 1989 which ended in bloodshed when they were quashed by troops.

He and other activists negotiated the safe exit of several hundred demonstrators, and have been credited with saving the protesters’ lives.

He was subsequently placed in a detention centre and released in 1991.

Mr Liu’s campaign to free those detained during Tiananmen landed him in a labour camp in north-eastern China for three years but he was permitted to marry poet Liu Xia there in 1996.

He was later freed, and continued to campaign for democracy. The 11-year jail term he was serving when he died was handed down in 2009 after he compiled, with other intellectuals, the Charter 08 manifesto.

This was a call for an end to one-party rule and the introduction of multi-party democracy. Mr Liu was found guilty of trying to overthrow the state.

Mr Liu was a pro-democracy figurehead for activists outside mainland China, although many of his compatriots were unaware of his struggles because the authorities rigorously censored news about him. The dissident won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”, but he was not permitted to travel to Norway to accept it.

He was the second person to receive the award while in prison – the other was the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who won in 1935 while incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp.

In a statement, the Nobel Committee added: “He was truly a prisoner of conscience and he paid the highest possible price for his relentless struggle.”