But You Forget/He Is A Seed: Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Dies In Prison

But You Forget/He Is A Seed: Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Dies In Prison

Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia in Beijing, China, 2000. Photo: http://liuxiaobo.eu/

Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, "China's conscience" and its most famous pro-democracy advocate and political prisoner has died of liver cancer in Chinese custody while serving an 11-year prison sentence for "inciting subversion of state power." He was 61.  A longtime leader of the non-violent struggle for human rights, Xiaobo steadfastly denounced hatred and freedom of expression as "the source of humanity, the mother of truth." Despite "the tragedy that Liu’s freedom has come from his death," said Jared Genser, a U.S. lawyer representing Liu, "It is clear today that the Chinese government has lost. Liu’s ideas and his dreams will persist, spread, and will, one day, come to fruition.”

A former literature professor, Xiaobo was a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, for which he served two years in a labor camp. After helping write 2008's Charter 08 calling for democratic change and freedom of expression, he was given the 11-year sentence. In court before his 2009 sentencing, he read a statement to "tell the regime that deprives me of my freedom" - its police, prosecutors and judges - "I have no enemies, and no hatred." He also spoke of his fierce love for his wife Liu Xia, now under house arrest; for him she was "all the beauty in the world," he wrote, and "even if I am crushed into powder, I will embrace you with ashes." Since then, he hadn’t been heard from publicly.

In 2010, Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” When the Chinese government refused to release him from prison to attend the ceremony in Norway, the award was presented to an empty chair. With his death, he became the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in state custody, but the second to be awarded it while imprisoned; in 1935, in a bizarre historical moment, pacifist Carl von Ossietzky was in a concentration camp when he won the prize in 1935 for opposing Nazism - notes one China observer, "not a comparison that Beijing wants to see."
 
Last month, suffering from liver cancer, Xiaobo was moved to a prison hospital amidst international calls for his release on humanitarian grounds. They were rejected, and on Thursday - even as Trump praised the man who had imprisoned him - Xiaobo died of multiple organ failure. He was mourned as "a giant of human rights" and praised as "a man of fierce intellect, principle, wit and above all humanity.” He was also, Edward Snowden, one of too many political prisoners. "Xiaobo died under guard in a world where states still dim our brightest lights," he . "The law is not justice." On Twitter, supporters posted quotes from Xiaobo's final, poignant statement in court. "Hatred is

"You want to bury him / Bury into the dirt / But you forget / He is a seed."

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