Responding to the news that Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo has passed away, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International commented:
“Today we grieve the loss of a giant of human rights. Liu Xiaobo was a man of fierce intellect, principle, wit and above all humanity.
“For decades, he fought tirelessly to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms in China. He did so in the face of the most relentless and often brutal opposition from the Chinese government. Time and again they tried to silence him, and time and again they failed. Despite enduring years of persecution, suppression and imprisonment, Liu Xiaobo continued to fight for his convictions.
“Although he has passed, everything he stood for still endures. The greatest tribute we can now pay him is to continue the struggle for human rights in China and recognize the powerful legacy he leaves behind. Thanks to Liu Xiaobo, millions of people in China and across the world have been inspired to stand up for freedom and justice in the face of oppression.
“We stand in solidarity with his wife Liu Xia and other members of his family, who have suffered an immeasurable loss. We must do all we can to end Liu Xia’s illegal house arrest and surveillance and ensure that she is no longer persecuted by the authorities.”
Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has carried out a crackdown on activists and human rights defenders, including human rights lawyers. New national security laws further threaten the Chinese people’s rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Human rights defenders are systematically subjected to monitoring, harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention, often outside of formal detention facilities.
Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at Minzu University of China in Beijing, was sentenced to life imprisonment for “separatism”. Amnesty International believes that he is in prison for writings posted on the Internet.
Women’s rights activist Su Changlan was sentenced in March 2017 to three years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.”
Human rights lawyers like Jiang Tianyong have been detained, arrested and harassed by government authorities in the last several years. He was formally arrested for “subverting state power” after being detained in an unofficial detention facility for over six months.