June 28, 2018

Statue of Chinese Nobel peace laureate to be unveiled in Taipei

A statue of Chinese writer and Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo will be unveiled by the “Friends of Liu Xiaobo” and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Taipei on 13 July, the first anniversary of his death in China from a cancer left untreated in detention.

The Friends of Liu Xiaobo is a group led by Wu’er Kaixi, a Chinese-born activist and member of RSF’s Emeritus Board. Designed by the Taiwanese artist Cheng Ai-Hua and funded by subscription with support from RSF, the statue will initially be installed in a public space near the famous Taipei 101 Tower, an area that attracts many Chinese tourists.

Another statue of Liu was temporarily installed on 12 June outside the Times Square shopping centre in Hong Kong and has been removed since. In Canada, the home of many people of Chinese and Taiwanese origin, Amnesty International Canada, PEN Canada and the Toronto Association for Democracy in China have announced plans to unveil a statue in honour of Liu in June 2019, on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

A tireless advocate of freedom of expression and the freedom to inform, Liu embodied the resistance to oppression in China. RSF awarded him its Press Freedom Prize in 2004, six years before he became a Nobel peace laureate.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for calling for peaceful political reform in his “Charter 08” manifesto, which had been posted online the previous year. When he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, he dedicated it in his prison cell to the “wandering souls of 4 June,” in reference to the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Widow still detained

Liu died less than three weeks after it was reported that he had been transferred to a hospital with terminal liver cancer. He was isolated and closely watched during his final weeks in the hospital and the Chinese authorities did not heed the many international calls for him to be allowed to receive treatment abroad.

International concern is now focused on his widow, the painter, poet and photographer Liu Xia. Although not accused of any crime, she has been under house arrest in Beijing ever since her husband’s Nobel award was announced in 2010.

Last month, the Berlin-based dissident Liao Yiwu released the recording of a phone conversation in which Liu Xia can be heard expressing her despair about the Chinese government’s refusal to let her travel to Berlin.

Ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, China continues to be one of the worlds biggest jailer of journalists.