Beginning on April 15th of 1989 and lasting until June 4th of that same year, the Tiananmen Square protests for democracy in China saw hundreds of students killed for their belief that autocracy should end in the Chinese state. The two most memorable dissidents in that protest were the unknown “Tank Man” who boldly stood in front of an entire column of tanks, blocking their progress momentarily. The second most memorable non-student dissident was Liu Xiaobo who died today at 61 of liver cancer in Chinese government custody. At the time of the protests, Xiaobo was a scholar but once the protests started he headed back to Beijing to be a part of the pro-democracy movement, which reportedly saved the lives of hundreds of
At the time of the protests, Xiaobo was a scholar, but once the protests started he headed back to Beijing to be a part of the pro-democracy movement, which reportedly saved the lives of hundreds of students while signaling how the rest of his life would go. On four separate occasions, Xiaobo found himself in the custody of the government who did not take his alternate viewpoint on governance kindly, the first following the Tiananmen protests and the latest jail term beginning in 2009.
All of the jailings and abuses he was forced to endure at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party stemmed from his willingness to challenge the CCP’s status quo. Whether the charge was officially “spreading messages to instigate counterrevolutionary behavior” (1989-1991), “disturbing the social order” (1996-1999), or ” spreading a message to subvert the country and authority” (2009-2017), Xiaobo did not repent his views (although one of his prison terms ended after signing a repentance statement). This repeated bravery in the face of state abuse is what earned him the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, although he was unable to collect his award due to
This repeated bravery in the face of state abuse is what earned him the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, although he was unable to collect his award due to the fourth imprisonment. The reason for that latest imprisonment was his signature on a document called Charter 08, which calls for an end to one-party rule, and freedom of association among other demands. His illness, it is thought, was exacerbated by the deliberate denial of treatment by Xi Jinping’s government. If the world, not just Chinese citizens pining for democracy, is to honor Mr. Xiaobo, they cannot let the current government erase his name from history — even if that means an official criticism of Beijing. If nothing is done, Liu Xiaobo will have died in vain and all the compliments and praises the world sung for him as he worked are worth nothing.