Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) says Chinese authorities are “guilty of murder by lack of care” over the death of writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo.
The Nobel peace laureate, who was also awarded the RSF’s press freedom laureate, died in hospital yesterday from late-stage liver cancer. He was moved from a prison in Liaoning for treatment less than three weeks ago.
RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said: “It is outrageous that the Chinese authorities waited until Liu Xiaobo’s cancer was in the terminal stage before treating him in hospital.
“It is hard to believe the Chinese prison authorities were so incompetent as to not notice a cancer developing in such a high-profile detainee as Liu Xiaobo.
“As well as arbitrary imprisonment, the Chinese leaders and their accomplices are guilty of murder by lack of care.”
RSF said Chinese authorities refused to allow Xiaobo to leave the country to receive medical care abroad, despite an international campaign.
“On paper, he had been ‘released on medical parole’ but in practice he was isolated in the hospital and subjected to the strictest surveillance,” the organisation said.
It also called for the release Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest.
Xiaobo was heavily involved in the writing of Charter 08, a manifesto released on 10 December 2008 calling for more freedom of expression, human rights and democratic elections.
As a result of his participation in the writing of the charter, Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison – his fourth internment.
RSF has said it condemns Hu Jintao, who was president when Xiaobo was arrested and tried, and current Chinese president Xi Jinping.
The constitution of the People’s Republic of China explicitly guarantees freedom of expression and press freedom.
Despite signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1998, there have been a number of violent acts against civil rights activists and journalists since 2013 when Jinping took over as president.
The head of RSF’s East Asia bureau, Cédric Alviani, said: “The authorities at least pretended to be trying to improve the human rights situation in previous decades.
“But Xi Jinping’s administration has brazenly rehabilitated practices worthy of the Maoist era – abduction, holding detainees incommunicado and without trial, systematic torture and mistreatment, and televised forced confessions.”
China is ranked 176 out 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.