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Statement by Foreign Minister Gabriel on the death of Liu Xiaobo

13.07.2017

Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement today (13 July):

I was dismayed to hear of the death of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo today.

We mourn the loss of an extraordinary man who unfailingly campaigned for democracy, human rights and civil rights using non‑violent means. His fearless vision coalesced in Charter 08, a declaration that he played a key role in drafting. This document was not only the basis on which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, but also resulted in his conviction and long‑term imprisonment the year after its publication.

Liu Xiaobo and his wife had most desperately wanted to come to Germany. I deeply regret that their wish was not granted. I now consider China to be under a duty to investigate, swiftly, credibly and transparently, whether his cancer could and should have been discovered much earlier.

Liu Xiaobo is survived by his wife, Liu Xia, who stood by him throughout his imprisonment and his illness. We wish her strength at this difficult time, and strongly urge the Chinese Government to lift the restrictions on her freedom of movement and communications without delay. She and her brother Liu Hui should be allowed to leave China immediately and travel to Germany or another country of their choice, if they so desire.

Background information:

The Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo, who was born on 28 December 1955, was a lecturer at Beijing Normal University and as of 2003 served as president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC).

Liu Xiaobo was a strong proponent and co‑author of Charter 08, a manifesto published on 10 December – international Human Rights Day – in 2008. Charter 08 calls for fundamental democratic rights in China, such as the freedom of assembly, the freedom of expression, and the freedom of religion (https://www.blaetter.de/archiv/jahrgaenge/2009/april/charta‑08).

Liu was taken into custody on 8 December 2008, two days prior to publication of the manifesto. He was officially arrested on 23 June 2009. Following his indictment that July, he was sentenced to eleven years in prison on 25 December 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” by the First Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing.

On 10 December 2010, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Liu the Nobel Peace Prize. Liu was prevented from accepting the prize in Oslo due to his detention. His wife Liu Xia was also not granted permission to leave the country to attend the award ceremony.

The German Government has been calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo for many years. In addition, ever since it learned of his wish to leave China for Germany and that he was ill, Germany has strongly advocated a humanitarian solution. This included the offer to take in Liu Xiaobo and his family members and allow them to reside in Germany. Unfortunately, the Chinese side did not accept this offer.

Only in June 2017, while suffering from late stage liver cancer, was Liu Xiaobo taken to hospital. He died on 13 July 2017 in a hospital in Shenyang (Liaoning Province).

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