vendredi 21 juillet 2017

Democratic world must stand united after Liu Xiaobo's death

Dissident's passing serves as chilling reminder of China's human rights record

A vigil for Liu Xiaobo is held outside the Chinese consulate in Sydney on July 14. 
One of the great symbols of the struggle for democracy in China has died. 
Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo was unyielding in his fight for the betterment of his country and his passing is a great loss to its citizens. 
He was 61.
A lifelong advocate of nonviolence, Liu continuously called for constitutional democracy in China. He was serving an 11-year prison term for "inciting subversion of state power," and denied access to treatment overseas for terminal liver cancer.
He may have died in hospital, but in essence his life ended behind bars. 
It is unclear whether Liu was provided adequate medical care, and the opaque circumstances raise questions about the responsibility of the Chinese government.
As a literary critic, Liu explored problems stemming from China's long-standing authoritarian rule from a cultural perspective. 
In 1989, he went on hunger strike during the Tiananmen Square protests, and was detained after government troops cracked down on the demonstrators, resulting in numerous fatalities.

In this recent undated handout photo, Liu is fed by his wife, Liu Xia, in a Chinese hospital. He was not allowed to leave the country to receive treatment for liver cancer. 

In 2008, he played a leading role in compiling the "Charter 08" manifesto calling for an end to one-party rule and other constitutional reforms. 
He was sentenced in 2009.
There is now a considerable risk that events in Tiananmen Square are being largely forgotten by many Chinese. 
Students in mainland China are unaware of key events that have been kept hidden from the public. The youth of the world's second-largest economy have little or no knowledge of the contemporary history of their own country.
In 2010, Liu was not permitted to travel to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded while in prison and the image of his empty chair at the ceremony made headlines worldwide.
Reacting angrily to the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is appointed by the country's government, Beijing placed de facto curbs on salmon imports from Norway. 
Applying pressure on another country over matters such as a peace award by leveraging greater purchasing power is in no way considered acceptable by the international community.
The case of Liu Xiaobo is far from the only example of human rights violations in China. 
In July 2015, human rights lawyers and activists were detained across the country. 
Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese leadership has been even more authoritarian than previous regimes in exercising control over expression and information. 
Under the circumstances, Liu's death is an even more significant loss for the Chinese people.
Successive U.S. administrations have been vocal, and often active, in taking a stand against China's human rights record. 
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, however, Washington has fallen silent on the matter. 
It is now time for democracies around the world, including Japan and other Asian countries, to unite in decrying human rights violations in China.

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