Ex-Inmates Speak Out About Labor Camps As China Considers ‘Reforms’
Some former prisoners of re-education through labor camps and their supporters hold signs in Beijing declaring, “No Re-education Through Labor.” Popular opposition to the camps has grown as China’s state-run media has highlighted particularly egregious cases.
Shen Lixiu’s story is numbingly familiar.
Officials in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing knocked down her karaoke parlor for development. She says they then offered her compensation that was less than 20 percent of what she had invested in the place.
Shen complained to the central government. Local authorities responded by sentencing her to a “re-education through labor” camp for a year. Once inside, Shen says, camp workers tried to force her to accept the compensation.
“I refused to sign my name,” says Shen, 58, who has salt-and-pepper hair and wears a plum-colored, padded coat. “They beat me, knocked out my front teeth.”
Shen reaches up and removes a set of false teeth. Her mouth forms a ghoulish grin with a dark gap where her four front teeth were kicked out.
Shen Lixiu, 58, says she had her front teeth kicked out in a re-education through labor camp. She says authorities had her beaten so she would sign a compensation agreement for the government demolition of her karaoke parlor in Nanjing.
She says fellow inmates beat her in exchange for reduced sentences — a practice human rights investigators say is common in these camps.
“Everyone went to sleep at night, not me,” Shen recalls. “They gave me a small stool, forcing me to stand on it. Once you fell to the ground, people would come to beat you. They asked drug addicts and prostitutes to beat you up.”
Those beatings proved effective. After seven months, Shen gave in. She signed the compensation agreement and was released, but she continues to protest what happened to her.
“I want to call on the leaders to abolish re-education through labor camps,” she says. “Inmates can no longer be tortured like this.”
‘Like Profit-Making Enterprises’
In January, the Chinese government announced it would “reform” the nation’s notorious re-education through labor camps. Under the current system, police can send people to the camps for years without trial, sometimes just for complaining about local officials.
“The system has drawn increasingly wide and fierce criticism from the public for years, and the need for reform is more necessary at present,” read a commentary in China’s state-run Xinhua news service last fall.
The government has yet to explain what reform would mean. However, the people who know the camps best — former inmates — say closing them is long overdue.
China’s Ministry of Justice says 160,000 people were imprisoned in 350 re-education through labor camps at the end of 2008.
Inmates include prostitutes, drug users and people like Shen, who have petitioned the central government to try to redress the wrongs of local officials.
Local authorities often use labor camps to shut up their critics with minimal paperwork.
“Local officials don’t want their dirty laundry to be aired in the open,” says Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The police control the process. They don’t have to go through the courts, and they don’t have to present any evidence.”
All they have to do is issue a document stating that an individual has disturbed social order, and that person can be sent to a camp for up to four years, Wang says. She adds, though, that actual sentences are shorter than they used to be and are now never more than two years.
The Communist Party built the labor camps in the 1950s to punish political enemies, including landlords and other capitalists. Today, the camps are driven by the same motives they were initially designed to punish.
“These re-education through labor facilities have become more like profit-making enterprises,” Wang says, “for the local government to basically have free labor that they could force to work for many hours a day to produce products at very low cost for domestic and international consumption.”
Desperate To Talk
Some former prisoners gathered recently at a dingy apartment buried among the alleys of south Beijing. They were so desperate to tell their stories that when a reporter arrived, they broke into applause.
The ex-inmates say they worked up to 16 hours a day making everything from circuit boards and uniforms to wire and blue jeans for little or no pay.
One of them, Tang Shuxiu, says she went to Beijing in 2011 to complain that her local government work unit hadn’t given her an apartment to which she thought she was entitled.
Police picked her up before she got out of the train station.
“They asked, ‘Are you here to petition?’ I said, ‘Yes,’ ” recalls Tang, who brought a mock-up of her labor camp identification card to pose with for photos so she can publicize the abuses of labor camps and push for change.
Tang, 51, says it never occurred to her to lie to the cops at the train station.
“I think petitioning doesn’t mean I am doing something bad or committing a crime,” she says. “I should tell the truth.”
Tang Shuxiu, 51, was sent to a re-education through labor camp in 2011 after she complained that her local government work unit failed to give her an apartment. She holds a mock-up of her labor camp ID card in order to publicize the abuses of labor camps and push for change.
Like Tang, many petitioners are honest to their own detriment. Tang’s candor landed her in a labor camp in eastern China’s Jiangsu province for nearly a year. She says she spent more than 12 hours a day sewing the seams of blue jeans.
“When I first started making blue jeans, I worked slowly,” she recalls. “Our team leader smacked my hands with his shoes. He said, ‘These are all for export. You’ve got take it seriously.’ “
‘I Was Suffocating’
Tang was imprisoned for complaining about her housing. Sometimes, people are sent to labor camps for complaining about labor camps.
Hundreds of petitioners staged protests in Beijing during a visit by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2009. Among them was Zhu Guiqin. Her brother had been put in a labor camp for alleged involvement in the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.
“On the day when Pelosi arrived, some petitioners and I tried to go to her event, and we were taken to the local police station,” Zhu says. Police sent her to a labor camp in Shenyang, a city in China’s frigid northeast.
Zhu is a wiry 49-year-old with a feisty personality who talks a blue streak. She says the guards eventually tired of her defiance and put her in solitary confinement — a tiny room with no bed.
“They confiscated my foam rubber mattress, saying, ‘This is not a hotel. Are you here to enjoy your life?’ ” Zhu recalls. “They dismantled the radiator and let me sleep on the floor.”
On winter nights, temperatures in Shenyang can drop below zero. Zhu wrapped up in a sweater, coats and quilts to stay warm. The room had no windows. Zhu says the air was awful.
“I couldn’t breathe. I was suffocating,” she says. “I lay on my stomach, facing the narrow space between the door and the floor to suck air from the outside.”
Murky Meaning Of ‘Reforms’
Stories like this have circulated on China’s Internet, driving public opposition to the camps. One of the most recent cases involved Tang Hui, a woman from south central China’s Hunan province. Tang was sent to a labor camp last year after criticizing police for trying to protect brothel operators who trafficked her 11-year-old daughter. The ensuing uproar on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter forced authorities to release Tang after just 10 days.
Wang Gongyi, a retired labor camp researcher with the Ministry of Justice, says the whole issue is way overblown. For one thing, he says petitioners only make up a tiny fraction of camp inmates. However, Wang does think the days of re-education through labor are numbered.
“I think it will probably be abolished, because the majority government people support abolition,” Wang says. “The core of the problem is decisions are made arbitrarily. The system doesn’t strictly follow legal procedure. Good people can be easily wronged.”
Wang adds that many camps have already stopped taking prisoners.
“Now, people are only coming out, not going in,” says Wang, “so the system only has 30,000 to 40,000 people.”
With official policy still unclear, though, some human rights activists are skeptical. Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch wonders if officials will stop sending petitioners to camps, only to house them in illegal black jails.
“What we fear is that one system is gone and another system crops up,” she says.
Labor camps still have one big group of supporters: China’s police. For them, giving up an authoritarian tool that has proven so convenient for so long would be a big step.
In China, Not Everything Has Changed
Shen Lixiu, 58, says she had her front teeth kicked out in a re-education through labor camp. Chinese authorities say they are considering “reforms” to a system that is coming under increasing public criticism.
A lot of journalism about China focuses on the country’s rapid and stunning changes, but equally telling are the things that stay the same. I did my first story on China’s re-education through labor camps back in 2001.
I met a former inmate named Liu Xiaobo for lunch in Beijing. Liu, soft-spoken and thoughtful, had written an article mourning those who had died in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. He had also called for democracy.
So, one day, police took him from his house and charged him with “slandering the Communist Party” and “disrupting social order.”
“It took no more than an hour and a half for them to arrest me in my home, declare a sentence of three years in a re-education camp and send me to another detention center in suburban Beijing,” said Liu over cups of tea. “I never imagined they could use such a fast method. If I hadn’t gone to the toilet, it would have been even shorter.”
Not long after I talked to Liu, I left China. Liu continued his calls for political change, which landed him in prison.
In 2010, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
I returned to China in 2011 as NPR’s Shanghai bureau chief. China was now the world’s second largest economy, Shanghai’s skyline dwarfed Manhattan’s, but police were still chucking people in labor camp with no due process.
This story that we broadcast and published Friday tells a familiar tale of people who complain about bad treatment by local government and end up in labor camps working 12- to 16-hour days and enduring beatings.
But, like so much else here, this too may be changing. With the growth of the Internet and a freer press, public opinion has been galvanized against the camps. The government says it wants to “reform” the system. Some think officials may even shut it down.
“I think it will probably be abolished, because the majority of government people support abolition,” said Wang Gongyi, a retired Ministry of Justice researcher. “The core problem is decisions are made arbitrarily. Good people can be easily wronged.”
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|Liu Xiaobo 劉曉波|
|Born||28 December 1955 (age 57)
|Alma mater||Jilin University
Beijing Normal University
|Occupation||Writer, political commentator, human rights activist|
|Awards||2010 Nobel Peace Prize|
|This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.|
Liu Xiaobo (Chinese: 刘晓波) (born 28 December 1955) is a Chinese literary critic, writer, professor, and human rights activist who called for political reforms and the end of communist single-party rule. He is currently incarcerated as a political prisoner in Jinzhou, Liaoning.
Liu has served from 2003 to 2007 as President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, an organization funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which in turn is almost entirely funded by the US Congress. He was also the President of NED-funded MinZhuZhongGuo (Democratic China) magazine since the mid-1990s. On 8 December 2008, Liu was detained because of his participation with the Charter 08 manifesto. He was formally arrested on 23 June 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” He was tried on the same charges on 23 December 2009, and sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights on 25 December 2009.
During his fourth prison term, he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” He is the first Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Prize of any kind while residing in China. Liu is the third person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while in prison or detention, after Germany’s Carl von Ossietzky (1935) and Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi (1991). Liu is also the second person (the first being Ossietzky) to be denied the right to have a representative collect the Nobel prize for him.
Early life and works
Liu was born in Changchun, Jilin, in 1955 to an intellectual family. In 1969, during the Down to the Countryside Movement, Liu’s father took him to Horqin Right Front Banner, Inner Mongolia. After he finished middle school in 1974, he was sent to the countryside to work on a farm in Jilin.
In 1977, Liu was admitted to the Department of Chinese Literature at Jilin University, where he created a poetry group known as “The Innocent Hearts” (Chi Zi Xin) with six schoolmates. In 1982, he graduated with B.A. in literature before being admitted as a research student at the Department of Chinese Literature at Beijing Normal University. In 1984, he received an M.A. in literature and became a teacher at the same department. That year, he married Tao Li, with whom he had a son named Liu Tao in 1985.
In 1986, Liu started his doctoral study program and published his literary critiques at various magazines. He became well known as a “dark horse” for his radical opinions and sharp comments on the official doctrines and establishments to shock both of the literary and ideological circles, thus termed as “Liu Xiaobo Shock” or “Liu Xiaobo Phenomenon”. In 1987, his first book, Criticism of the Choice: Dialogues with Li Zehou, was published and became a bestseller non-fiction. It comprehensively criticised the Chinese tradition of Confucianism and posed a frank challenge to Li Zehou, a rising ideological star who had a strong influence on young intellectuals in China at the time.
In June 1988, he received a Ph.D. in literature. His doctoral thesis, Aesthetic and Human Freedom, passed the examination unanimously and was published as his second book. In the same year he became a lecturer at the same department. He soon became a visiting scholar at several universities, including Columbia University, the University of Oslo, and the University of Hawaii. He returned home as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests broke out. This year saw also the publication of his third book, The Fog of Metaphysics, a comprehensive review on Western philosophies. Soon, all of his works were banned.
In a 1988 interview with Hong Kong’s Liberation Monthly (now known as Open Magazine), Liu was asked what it would take for China to realize a true historical transformation. He replied:
“[It would take] 300 years of colonialism. In 100 years of colonialism, Hong Kong has changed to what we see today. With China being so big, of course it would require 300 years as a colony for it to be able to transform into how Hong Kong is today. I have my doubts as to whether 300 years would be enough.”
Liu admitted in 2006 that the response was extemporaneous, although he did not intend to take it back, as it represented “an extreme expression of his longheld belief.” The quote was nonetheless used against him. He has commented, “Even today [in 2006], radical patriotic ‘angry youth‘ still frequently use these words to paint me with ‘treason‘.”
Known for his pro-West stance, Liu once stated in an interview: “Modernization means whole-sale westernization, choosing a human life is choosing Western way of life. Difference between Western and Chinese governing system is humane vs in-humane, there’s no middle ground… Westernization is not a choice of a nation, but a choice for the human race” 
During the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, he was in the United States but decided to return to China to join the movement. He was later named as one of the “four junzis of Tiananmen Square” for persuading students to leave the square and thus saving hundreds of lives.
As noted by Simon Leys of the New York Review of Books in an article about Liu Xiaobo, while traveling in the United States and Europe, Liu’s perception of the West and its relationship to a modernizing China, evolved.
“During a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, he experienced a sort of epiphany that crystallized the turmoil of his latest self-questioning: he realized the shallowness of his own learning in the light of the fabulous riches of the diverse civilizations of the past, and simultaneously perceived the inadequacy of contemporary Western answers to mankind’s modern predicament. His own dream that Westernization could be used to reform China suddenly appeared to him as pathetic as the attitude of ‘a paraplegic laughing at a quadriplegic,’ he confessed at the time: ‘My tendency to idealize Western civilization arises from my nationalistic desire to use the West in order to reform China. But this has led me to overlook the flaws of Western culture…. I have been obsequious toward Western civilization, exaggerating its merits, and at the same time exaggerating my own merits. I have viewed the West as if it were not only the salvation of China but also the natural and ultimate destination of all humanity. Moreover I have used this delusional idealism to assign myself the role of savior…. I now realize that Western civilization, while it can be useful in reforming China in its present stage, cannot save humanity in an overall sense. If we stand back from Western civilization for a moment, we can see that it possesses all the flaws of humanity in general….If I, as a person who has lived under China’s autocratic system for more than thirty years, want to reflect on the fate of humanity or how to be an authentic person, I have no choice but to carry out two critiques simultaneously. I must: 1. Use Western civilization as a tool to critique China. 2. Use my own creativity to critique the West.’”
In his 1996 article titled “Lessons from the Cold War”, Liu argues that “The free world led by the US fought almost all regimes that trampled on human rights … The major wars that the US became involved in are all ethically defensible.” He has defended U.S. policies in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, which he thinks is the fault of the “provocateur” Palestinians.
Liu also published a 2004 article in support of Bush’s war on Iraq, titled “Victory to the Anglo-American Freedom Alliance”, in which he praised the U.S.-led post-Cold War conflicts as “best examples of how war should be conducted in a modern civilization.” He predicted “a free, democratic and peaceful Iraq will emerge.” During the 2004 US presidential election, Liu again praised Bush for his war effort against Iraq and condemned Democratic Party candidate John Kerry for not sufficiently supporting the wars in which the U.S. was then involved. He commented on Islamism that, “a culture and (religious) system that produced this kind of threat (Islamic fundamentalism), must be extremely intolerant and blood-thirsty.” On Israel, he said “without America’s protection, the long persecuted Jews who faced extermination during World War II, probably would again be drowned by the Islamic world’s hatred.”
Human rights activities
On 27 April 1989, Liu returned to Beijing and immediately and actively supported the popular movement. When the army looked set to violently eject the students who persistently occupied the square to challenge the government and army enforcing martial law in Tiananmen Square, he initiated a four-man three-day hunger strike on 2 June. Later referred to as the “Tiananmen Four Gentlemen Hunger Strike”, the action earned the trust of the students. He requested that the government and the students abandon the ideology of class struggle and adopt a new kind of political culture of dialogue and compromise. Although it was too late to prevent the massacre from occurring beyond the square starting from the night of 3 June, he and his colleagues successfully negotiated with the student leaders and the army commander to let all of the several thousand students withdraw peacefully from the Square, thus avoiding a possibly much larger scale of bloodshed.
On 6 June, Liu was arrested and detained in Qincheng Prison for his alleged role in the movement, and three months later was expelled from Beijing Normal University. The government’s media issued numerous publications which labeled him a “mad dog” and “black hand” because he had allegedly incited and manipulated the student movement to overthrow the government and socialism. His publications were banned, including his fourth book in press, Going Naked Toward God. In Taiwan however, his first and third books, Criticism of the Choice: Dialogues with Leading Thinker LI Zehou (1989), and the two-volume Mysteries of Thought and Dreams of Mankind (1990) were republished with some additions.
In January 1991, 19 months since his arrest, Liu Xiaobo was convicted for the offense of “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement” but exempted from criminal punishment for his “major meritorious action” for having avoided the possible bloody confrontation in Tiananmen Square. After his release, he was divorced and eventually his ex-wife and son immigrated to the US. He resumed his writing, mostly on human rights and political issues though he has not been allowed to publish in Mainland China. In 1992, in Taiwan, he published his first book after his imprisonment, The Monologues of a Doomsday’s Survivor, a controversial memoir with his confessions and political criticism on the popular movement in 1989.
In January 1993, Liu was invited to visit Australia and the US for the interviews in the documentary film Gate of Heavenly Peace. Although many of his friends suggested that he take refuge abroad, Liu returned to China in May 1993 and continued his freelance writing.
On 18 May of 1995, the police took Liu into custody for launching a petition campaign on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the 4 June massacre, calling on the government to reassess the event and to initiate political reform. He was held under residential surveillance in the suburbs of Beijing for 9 months. He was released in February 1996 but arrested again on 8 October for an October Tenth Declaration, co-authored by him and another prominent dissident Wang Xizhe, mainly on the Taiwan issue that advocated a peaceful reunification in order to oppose the Chinese Communist Party’s forceful treats towards the island. He was ordered to serve three years of re-education through labor “for disturbing public order” for that statement. In the same year, he married Liu Xia.
After his release on 7 October 1999, Liu Xiaobo resumed his freelance writing. However, it is reported that the government built a sentry station next to his home and his phone calls and internet connections were tapped.
In 2000, he published in Taiwan the book A Nation That Lies to Conscience, a 400-paged political criticism. Also published, in Hong Kong, was Selection of Poems, a 450-paged collection of the poems as correspondences between him and his wife during his imprisonment; it was co-authored by Liu and his wife. The last of three books which he published during the year was in Mainland China, titled The Beauty Offers Me Drug: Literary Dialogues between Wang Shuo and Lao Xia, a 250-paged collection of literary critiques co-authored by a popular young writer and by himself under his unknown penname of “Lao Xiao”. In the same year, Liu participated in founding the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and was elected to its board of directors as well as its president in November 2003, re-elected two years later. In 2007, he did not seek for the re-election of the president but held his position of the board member until detained by the police in December 2008.
In 2004, when he started to write a Human Rights Report of China at home, his computer, letters and documents were confiscated by the government. He once said, “at Liu Xia’s [Liu's wife] birthday, her best friend brought two bottles of wine to [my home] but was blocked by the police from coming in. I ordered a [birthday] cake and the police also rejected the man who delivered the cake to us. I quarreled with them and the police said, “it is for the sake of your security. It has happened many bomb attacks in these days.” Those measures were loosened until 2007, prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
In January 2005, following the death of former Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang, who showed sympathy to protesters of the student demonstration in 1989, Liu was immediately put under house arrest for two weeks before realizing the death of Zhao. In the same year, he published two more books in the US, The Future of Free China Exists in Civil Society, and Single-Blade Poisonous Sword: Criticism of Chinese Nationalism.
His writing is considered subversive by the Chinese Communist Party, and his name is censored. He has called for multi-party elections, free markets, advocated the values of freedom, supported separation of powers and urged the governments to be accountable for its wrongdoings. When not in prison, he has been the subject of government monitoring and put under house arrest during sensitive times.
|June 1989 – January 1991||Charged with spreading messages to instigate counterrevolutionary behavior.||Imprisoned in one of China’s best-known maximum security prisons, Qincheng Prison, and discharged when he signed a “letter of repentance.”|
|May 1995 – January 1996||Being involved in democracy and human rights movement and voicing publicly the need to redress the government’s wrongdoings in the student protest of 1989||Released after being jailed for six months.|
|October 1996 – October 1999||Charged with disturbing the social order||Jailed in a labor education camp for three years. In 1996, he married Liu Xia.|
|December 2009 – 2020||Charged with spreading a message to subvert the country and authority||Sentenced for 11 years and deprived of all political rights for two years. Currently imprisoned in Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province.|
Charter 08, arrest and trial
Conception and diffusion of the Charter
Liu Xiaobo actively participated in the writing of and, along with more than three hundred Chinese citizens, signed Charter 08. The Charter is a manifesto released on 10 December 2008 to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was written in the style of the Czechoslovak Charter 77, calling for more freedom of expression, human rights, more democratic elections, for privatizing state enterprises and land and for economic liberalism. As of September 2010, the Charter has collected over 10,000 signatures.
Two days before the official release of the Charter, late in the evening of 8 December 2008, Liu was taken into custody by the police, as was Zhang Zuhua, another scholar and Charter 08 signatory. According to Zhang, the two were detained on suspicion of gathering signatures to the Charter. While Liu was detained in solitary confinement, he was forbidden to meet with his lawyer or family, though he was allowed to eat lunch with his wife, Liu Xia, and two policemen on New Year’s Day 2009. On 23 June 2009, the Beijing procuratorate approved Liu’s arrest on charges of “suspicion of inciting subversion of state power,” a crime under Article 105 of China’s Criminal Law. In a Xinhua news release announcing Liu’s arrest, the Beijing Public Security Bureau alleged that Liu had incited the subversion of state power and the overturn of the socialist system through methods such as spreading rumors and slander, citing almost verbatim Article 105; the Beijing PSB also noted that Liu had “fully confessed.”
On 1 December 2009, Beijing police transferred Liu’s case to the procuratorate for investigation and processing; on 10 December, the procuratorate formally indicted Liu on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” under and sent his lawyers, Shang Baojun and Ding Xikui, the indictment document. He was tried at Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court on 23 December 2009. His wife was not permitted to observe the hearing, although his brother-in-law was present. Diplomats from more than a dozen states – including the U.S., Britain, Canada, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand – were denied access to the court to watch the trial and stood outside the court for its duration. Amongst these included Gregory May, political officer at the U.S. Embassy, and Nicholas Weeks, first secretary of the Swedish Embassy.
|“||I have no enemies, and no hatred. None of the police who have monitored, arrested and interrogated me, the prosecutors who prosecuted me, or the judges who sentence me, are my enemies. While I’m unable to accept your surveillance, arrest, prosecution or sentencing, I respect your professions and personalities, including Zhang Rongge and Pan Xueqing who act for the prosecution at present. I was aware of your respect and sincerity in your interrogation of me on December 3.For hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy. I hope therefore to be able to transcend my personal vicissitudes in understanding the development of the state and changes in society, to counter the hostility of the regime with the best of intentions, and defuse hate with love….I do not feel guilty for following my constitutional right to freedom of expression, for fulfilling my social responsibility as a Chinese citizen. Even if accused of it, I would have no complaints.||”|
|—Liu Xiaobo, 23 December 2009|
This statement, titled “I have no enemies“, was later read in the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, which Liu was unable to attend due to imprisonment. On 25 December 2009, Liu was sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” According to Liu’s family and counsel, he plans to appeal the judgment. In the verdict, Charter 08 was named as part of the evidence supporting his conviction. John Pomfret of The Washington Post said Christmas Day was chosen to dump the news because the Chinese government believed Westerners were less likely to take notice on a holiday.
|“||China’s political reform [...] should be gradual, peaceful, orderly and controllable and should be interactive, from above to below and from below to above. This way causes the least cost and leads to the most effective result. I know the basic principles of political change, that orderly and controllable social change is better than one which is chaotic and out of control. The order of a bad government is better than the chaos of anarchy. So I oppose systems of government that are dictatorships or monopolies. This is not ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Opposition is not equivalent to subversion.||”|
|—Liu Xiaobo, 9 February 2010|
In an article published in the South China Morning Post, Liu argued that his verdict violated China’s constitution, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. He argued that charges against him of ‘spreading rumours, slandering and in other ways inciting the subversion of the government and overturning the socialist system’ were contrived, as he did not fabricate or create false information, nor did he besmirch the good name and character of others by merely expressing a point of view, a value judgment.
Japanese demonstrators hoisted sign written the words “Free Liu Xiaobo” near Chinese Embassy in Tokyo on 16 October 2010.
Liu’s detention was condemned worldwide by organisations and other countries. On 11 December 2008, the U.S. Department of State called for Liu’s release, which was followed on 22 December 2008 by a similar request from a consortium of scholars, writers, lawyers and human rights advocates. Additionally, on 21 January 2009, 300 international writers, including Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Ha Jin and Jung Chang, called for Liu’s release in a statement put out through PEN. In March 2009, the One World Film Festival awarded Liu Xiaobo the Homo Homini Award, organized by the People in Need foundation, for promoting freedom of speech, democratic principles and human rights.
In December 2009, the European Union and United States issued formal appeals calling for the unconditional release of Liu Xiaobo. China, responding to the international calls prior to the verdict, stated that other nations should “respect China’s judicial sovereignty and to not do things that will interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
Responding to the verdict, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay expressed concern at the deterioration of political rights in China. German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly criticized the verdict, stating “despite the great progress in other areas in the expression of views, I regret that the Chinese government still massively restricts press freedom.” Canada and Switzerland also condemned the verdict. The Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou called on Beijing to “tolerate dissent”. On 6 January 2010, former Czech president Václav Havel joined with other communist-era dissidents at the Chinese Embassy in Prague to present a petition calling for Liu’s release. On 22 January 2010, European Association for Chinese Studies sent an open letter to Hu Jintao on behalf of over 800 scholars from 36 countries calling for Liu’s release.
On 18 January 2010, Liu was nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize by Václav Havel, the 14th Dalai Lama, André Glucksmann, Vartan Gregorian, Mike Moore, Karel Schwarzenberg, Desmond Tutu and Grigory Yavlinsky. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu stated that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu would be “totally wrong”. Geir Lundestad, a secretary of the Nobel Committee, stated the award would not be influenced by Beijing’s opposition. On 25 September 2010, The New York Times reported that a petition in support of the Nobel nomination was being circulated in China.
On 14 September 2010, the Mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, met on an unrelated matter with CPC Politburo member Liu Qi and demanded China set the dissident Liu Xiaobo free. Also that September Václav Havel, Dana Němcová and Václav Malý, leaders of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution, published an open letter in the International Herald Tribune calling for the award to be given to Liu, while a petition began to circulate soon afterwards.
On 6 October 2010, the non-governmental organization Freedom Now, which serves as an international counsel to Liu Xiaobo as retained by his family, publicly released a letter from 30 members of the U.S. Congress to President Barack Obama, urging him to directly raise both Liu’s case and that of fellow imprisoned dissident Gao Zhisheng to Chinese President Hu Jintao at the G-20 Summit in November 2010. The Republic of China President Ma Ying-jiu congratulated Liu on winning the Nobel Prize and requested Chinese authorities to improve their impression to the world about human rights, but not calling for his release from prison.
In 2011, the WorldWideReading is dedicated to Liu Xiaobo; on 20 March, there were readings in more than 60 towns and cities on all continents and broadcast via radio stations. The appeal “Freedom for Liu Xiaobo” has so far been supported by more than 700 writers from around the world, amongst them the Nobel Prize laureates John M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Herta Müller and Elfriede Jelinek, as well as Breyten Breytenbach, Eliot Weinberger, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Mario Vargas Llosa, Wolf Biermann and Dave Eggers.
The international literature festival called for a worldwide reading on 20 March 2011 for Liu Xiaobo. More than 700 authors from all continents signed the appeal and over 150 institutions took part in the event. 
Nobel Peace Prize
On 8 October 2010, the Nobel Committee awarded Liu the Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China,” saying that Liu had long been front-runner as the recipient of the prize.
China reacted negatively to the award, immediately censoring news about the announcement of the award in China, though later that day limited news of the award became available.[clarification needed] Foreign news broadcasters including CNN and the BBC were immediately blocked, while heavy censorship was applied to personal communications. The Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced the award to Liu Xiaobo, saying that it “runs completely counter to the principle of the award and is also a desecration of the Peace Prize.” The Norwegian ambassador to the People’s Republic of China was summoned by the Foreign Ministry on 8 October 2010 and was presented with an official complaint about the granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu. The Chinese government has called Liu Xiaobo a criminal and stated that he does not deserve the prize. Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, in his response to news of the award, criticized Liu by calling him “the accomplice of the Communist regime.”
Following the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, celebrations in China were either stopped or curtailed, and prominent intellectuals and other dissidents were detained, harassed or put under surveillance; Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest and was forbidden to talk to reporters even though no official charges were brought. Sixty-five countries with missions in Norway were all invited to the Nobel Prize ceremony, but fifteen declined, in some cases due to heavy lobbying by China. Besides China, these countries were Russia, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Venezuela, Egypt, Sudan, Cuba and Morocco.
China also imposed travel restrictions on known dissidents ahead of the ceremony. A Chinese group announced that its answer to the Nobel Peace Prize, the Confucius Peace Prize, would be awarded to former Taiwan Vice-President Lien Chan for the bridge of peace he has been building between Taiwan and Mainland China. Lien Chan himself denied any knowledge of the $15,000 prize.
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Awards and Honors
- Hellman-Hammett Grant (1990, 1996)
- China Foundation on Democracy Education for Outstanding Democratic Activist(2003)
- Fondation de France Prize for defender of press freedom (2004)
- Hong Kong Human Rights Press Awards (2004, 2005, 2006)
- Excellent Award (2004) for an article Corrupted News is not News, published on Open Magazine , January 2004 issue
- Grand Prize (2005) for an article Paradise of the Powerful, Hell of the Vulnerable on Open Magazine, September 2004 issue
- Excellent Award (2006) for The Causes and Ending of Shanwei Bloodshed on Open Magazine, January 2006
- Asia-Pacific Human Rights Foundation (Australia) Courage of Conscience Award (2007)
- People In Need (Czech) Homo Homini Award (2009)
- PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award (2009)
- Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars (USA) Free Spirit Award (2009)
- German PEN Hermann Kesten Medal (2010)
- Nobel Peace Prize (2010)
- Honorary member of German, American, Portuguese, Czech and Sydney PEN Centers, and Honorary President of Independent Chinese PEN Centre.
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- ^ 中华人民共和国刑法 (Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China)
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- ^ Original title:《选择的批判——与李泽厚对话》, published by 上海人民出版社
- ^ Original title:《选择的批判—与思想领袖李泽厚对话》, published by 台湾风云时代出版公司
- ^ Original title: 《审美与人的自由》, published by 北京師范大學出版社
- ^ Original title: 《赤身裸体，走向上帝》, 时代文艺出版社
- ^ Original title:《形而上学的迷雾》, by 上海人民出版社
- ^ Original title:《思想之谜与人类之梦》（二卷）, by 台湾风云时代出版公司
- ^ Original title:《中国当代政治与中国知识份子》, published by 台北唐山出版社
- ^ Original title:現代中国知識人批判, published by 日本德间书店
- ^ Original title:《末日幸存者的独白》, published by 台湾中国时报出版社
- ^ 《刘晓波刘霞诗选》, published by 香港夏菲尔国际出版公司
- ^ Original title:《美人赠我蒙汗药》, by 长江文艺出版社
- ^ Original title: 《向良心说谎的民族》, published by 台湾捷幼出版社
- ^ Original title:《未来的自由中国在民间》, published by 劳改基金会
- ^ Original title:《单刃毒剑——中国当代民族主义批判》, published by 美国博大出版社
- ^ Original title:《大国沈沦—写给中国的备忘录》, published by 台北允晨文化出版社
- ^ Original title:《天安門事件から「08憲章」》, published by 日本藤原书店
- ^ One World Homo Homini award goes to Chinese dissident，2009年3月12日.
- ^ “Liu Xiaobo”. DW.de. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
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- ^ LIU XIAOBO’S NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WIN PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON CHINA RIGHTS VIOLATIONS Amnesty International [2010-10-08]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Liu Xiaobo|
Liu’s verdict and articles cited as evidence of Liu’s guilt in the verdict
- Liu Xiaobo’s 2009 criminal verdict
- “The Communist Party of China’s Dictatorial Patriotism”
- “Can It Be that the Chinese People Deserve Only Party-Led Democracy?”
- “Changing the Regime by Changing Society”
- The Negative Effects of the Rise of Dictatorship on World Democratization”
- “Further Questions about Child Slavery in China’s Kilns”
- Charter 08
Other items written by Liu Xiaobo
- Letter from Liu Xiaobo to Liao Yiwu (2000)
- “The Rise of Civil Society in China” (2003)
- “Atop a Volcano” (2004)
- “Remembering June 4th for China’s Future” (2005)
- The Poet in an Unknown Prison letter by Liu fromThe New York Review of Books (2009)
- No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems (2011)
- “Behind The Rise of the Great Powers in Guernica Magazine, January 2012
Interviews with Liu Xiaobo
- English language articles and interviews
- Film Excerpts of Liu Xiaobo from The Gate of Heavenly Peace
- Interview with Liu Xiaobo (English and Chinese) by PEN American Center on YouTube
Other items related to Liu Xiaobo
- 30 September 2009 floor debate in U.S. Congress on the Liu Xiaobo resolution on YouTube
- Jailed Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize – video report by Democracy Now!
- “Liu Xiaobo’s Plea for the Human Spirit” essay by Jonathan Mirsky in the Sunday Book Review in The New York Times 30 December 2011
|Awards and achievements|
|Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf