Press Release — HRF Mourns the Passing of Liu Xiaobo


The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) mourns the passing of Liu Xiaobo. Liu, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and champion for democracy in China, passed away today due to liver cancer that he developed while wrongfully imprisoned. Liu wasarrested in 2008 for writing and promoting Charter 08, a manifesto calling for democratic reforms in China. He was subsequently sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” In late June, the Chinese government announced publicly that Liu had terminal-stage liver cancer, and only then was he sent to a hospital in Shenyang on medical parole.

“The only Nobel Laureate in prison has died of untreated cancer in the custody of the world's biggest dictatorship. His crime? Organizing a petition asking the Chinese government to respect freedom of expression, individual liberty and human rights,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “Liu was already a hero but the Chinese tyrannical regime has transformed him into a martyr. His name is already well-recognized in democratic countries and we are certain that his name will spread inside China. It is inspiring and speaks volumes about the power of his ideas and principles that one of the richest, most powerful governments in the world was so afraid of Liu Xiaobo, a university professor, that they marshaled every imaginable resource to extinguish his spirit. He is finally free. And so long as individuals are willing to die for such principles liberty will never perish,” added Halvorssen.

The Chinese government denied Liu Xiaobo’s wishes to be treated in a democratic country, so instead Liu spent his last 16 days heavily guarded at the Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang. Since Liu’s arrest in 2008, his wife Liu Xia was kept under house arrest and complete isolation in order to prevent her from speaking out about her husband. While Liu Xia was allowed limited visits to the hospital where Liu was kept for his last two weeks, following his death she was promptly put back under house arrest to prevent her from speaking out about her husband’s passing.

Read the full text of Charter 08 here.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

Contact: Prachi Vidwans, (212) 246-8486,