November 18, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Liu Xiaobo – only Nobel peace laureate still detained

The entire world applauded when Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s pro-democracy opposition and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, was freed on on 13 November. Her release means that Chinese political dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘哓波) is now the only winner of this prestigious award to remain in detention. Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo have similar destinies. Both are fighting for democracy in their countries and both were locked up by governments that do not respect freedom of expression. Will the former’s release prompt the Chinese authorities to release their “Nobel”, who continues to serve an 11-year jail sentence? Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of Liu and all of China’s political prisoners. The Chinese government reacted to Aung San Suu Kyi’s release by calling her an “important political figure” and voicing confidence in the process of peace and ethnic reconciliation in Burma.. So why shouldn’t it follow suit with Liu? There is an urgent need to end his unjust imprisonment. Reporters Without Borders also reiterates its call for the release of Burma’s 2,200 political prisoners and for the Burmese authorities to stop censoring the media and allow them to report Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and to cover her current activities. Meanwhile, there has been no let-up in the harassment and pressure on Liu’s family and supporters and all the other free speech activities in China. The Chinese government has already tried to dissuade diplomats from attending the Nobel award ceremony on 10 December in Oslo and has prevented several Chinese human rights activists from leaving the country in case they go to Oslo. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), is still under house arrest while his brothers are pessimistic about their chances of being able to travel. Liu has also been denied a monthly visit by relatives. Mo Shaoping (莫少平), a human rights lawyer who supports Liu, is among those who have been prevented from travelling abroad. The Nobel Committee could as a result find itself unable to hand over this year’s peace prize, said one of its leading members, Geir Lundestad, describing Liu as “one of the most important Nobels in history.” The authorities are also continuing to arrest Liu supporters. Guo Xianliang (郭贤良), an Internet writer known as the “Tianshan Hermit” (天山居士) has been detained in the southern city of Guangzhou for distributing leaflets referring to Liu in the city’s parks and streets. Li Hai (李海), a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, was arrested on 30 October. His family have had no news of him since then. Hua Ze (华泽), a freelance journalist and human rights activist who used to work as a documentary film-maker for the government TV station CCTV, was abducted in the Beijing metro on 27 October and deported to Jiangxi, her home province, where she is now under house arrest. Human rights lawyer Teng Biao (滕彪) reported in a message posted on Twitter that Beijing resident Shen Minqiang (沈民强) was arrested while giving an interview outside Liu’s home on 8 October. He has been placed under a non-judicial form of detention and it is unclear what he is charged with. The authorities have also stepped up their control of news and information since the announcement of Liu’s Nobel and, determined to nip any grass-roots movements in the bud, are targeting NGOs as well as media. Ai Yuan (“爱源”), an AIDS charity created by the activist Hu Jia (胡佳), who has been imprisoned since 2007, has had to cease operating under pressure from the authorities. Hu Jia’s parents have been told by the police that they must not leave Beijing and his wife said the police even “investigated” their daughter’s crèche. The Chinese Internet also continues to be targeted by government censors. A bogus invitation to attend the 10 December Nobel award ceremony in Oslo that contains a powerful “trojan” virus has been circulating by email. The computer security company F-Secure said it had been unable to identify its origin. Liu’s website was the target of an initial hacker attack two weeks before the trojan appeared. Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard and the head of the organization’s Asia-Pacific Desk, Vincent Brossel, will attend the Nobel ceremony in Oslo in a show of support for Liu and press freedom. Sign the petition for Liu’s release:,38700.html