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Liu Xiaobo’s Two Prisons

 

China’s 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has been imprisoned by authorities since 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power.” (At the Nobel awards ceremony, he was represented by an empty chair.) His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since his prison sentence began, in spite of not being charged with a crime.

Mr. Liu has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer and refused permission to leave China to seek treatment. My understanding is that the Chinese authorities will allow him to have acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicines but say it is too late for surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy treatments.

Mr. Liu was teaching at Barnard College in 1989 when the Tiananmen Square protests began, and quickly returned to China to participate. The authorities arrested him and imprisoned him for two years for “counter-revolutionary propaganda.” Offered asylum by the Australians, he refused in order to continue to live in China, even though he was barred from writing or speaking publicly. During these years, he published many articles on website outside China. He has called the Internet “God’s gift to China.”

In 2008, Mr. Liu founded the Charter 08 movement, which sought to elevate the rule of law and bring China into constitutional government: “China has many laws but no rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government.” On December 10, 2008, the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 100 years after China’s first constitution was written, Liu released a petition signed by 303 incredibly brave Chinese people in support of the Charter. This was the final straw for the government, which arrested him immediately, and he has been imprisoned since.

It is not clear whether Terry Branstad, the American ambassador to China, or President Trump have spoken to the Chinese explicitly in Mr. Liu’s behalf. The Chinese government-run Global Times released a scathing editorial castigating foreigners concerned about Mr. Liu, saying, “Those arguing for Liu to be treated better do not really care about him. . . Stories maliciously fabricated to make trouble for China will not cure Liu or erode China’s legal order. They are only ephemeral bubbles floating overseas. Just let them go.”

A video from an Australian journalist was filmed before his arrest, and gave me the idea for the title of this post.

The text of Charter 08 can be found here.

More info here, here, and here.

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Members have made 14 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Henry Castaigne Member

    His poems are quite good even when translated into English.

    • #1
    • July 3, 2017 at 3:56 pm
    • Like2 likes
  2. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    They mostly seem to be dedicated to his wife, herself a poet, but maybe little Xia is a child?

    A Small Rat in Prison

    for Little Xia

    a small rat passes through the iron bars
    paces back and forth on the window ledge
    the peeling walls are watching him
    the blood-filled mosquitoes are watching him
    he even draws the moon from the sky, silver
    shadow casts down
    beauty, as if in flight

    a very gentryman the rat tonight
    doesn’t eat nor drink nor grind his teeth
    as he stares with his sly bright eyes
    strolling in the moonlight

    5. 26. 1999

    • #2
    • July 3, 2017 at 4:07 pm
    • Like5 likes
  3. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    His wife, according to this.

    • #3
    • July 3, 2017 at 4:15 pm
    • Like1 like
  4. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    from “Experiencing Death”

    I had imagined being there beneath sunlight
    with the procession of martyrs
    using just the one thin bone
    to uphold a true conviction
    And yet, the heavenly void
    will not plate the sacrificed in gold
    A pack of wolves well-fed full of corpses
    celebrate in the warm noon air
    aflood with joy

    Faraway place
    I’ve exiled my life to
    this place without sun
    to flee the era of Christ’s birth
    I cannot face the blinding vision on the cross
    From a wisp of smoke to a little heap of ash
    I’ve drained the drink of the martyrs, sense spring’s
    about to break into the brocade-brilliance of myriad flowers

    Deep in the night, empty road
    I’m biking home
    I stop at a cigarette stand
    A car follows me, crashes over my bicycle
    some enormous brutes seize me
    I’m handcuffed eyes covered mouth gagged
    thrown into a prison van heading nowhere

    A blink, a trembling instant passes
    to a flash of awareness: I’m still alive
    On Central Television News
    my name’s changed to “arrested black hand”
    though those nameless white bones of the dead
    still stand in the forgetting
    I lift up high up the self-invented lie
    tell everyone how I’ve experienced death
    so that “black hand” becomes a hero’s medal of honor

    Even if I know
    death’s a mysterious unknown
    being alive, there’s no way to experience death
    and once dead
    cannot experience death again
    yet I’m still
    hovering within death
    a hovering in drowning
    Countless nights behind iron-barred windows
    and the graves beneath starlight
    have exposed my nightmares

    Besides a lie
    I own nothing

    • #4
    • July 3, 2017 at 4:19 pm
    • Like3 likes
  5. Profile photo of Henry Castaigne Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Besides a lie
    I own nothing

    As MLK said, “No lie can live forever.” Lies imprisoned Liu Xiao Boa but the Truth will make him a hero. Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass were hated and insulted in their day. They are now heroes in the American pantheon.

    I look forward to Mao being hated by the average Chinese and Liu Xiao Boa being venerated for his devotion to freedom. It is only a matter of time. A very very long time I grant you but eventually, what is good triumphs over what is evil.

    • #5
    • July 4, 2017 at 12:01 am
    • Like4 likes
  6. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    As Liu Xiaobo says himself in the video I shared above, “My optimism about China is not something I judge by what the authorities are doing. but by the growing power of ordinary people. . . . But we cannot expect things to change overnight in China. I think it’s a very slow process.”

    The journalist then asks, “Within your lifetime?”

    “Maybe not, despite all my efforts for so long,” he laughs.

    I hope he is still able to laugh after imprisonment and sickness. Lord, continue to sustain him and bring him courage.

    • #6
    • July 4, 2017 at 2:16 am
    • Like3 likes
  7. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    • #7
    • July 4, 2017 at 3:59 am
    • LikeLike
  8. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    Wallflower

    Peter Gabriel

    Six by six, from wall to wall
    Shutters on the windows, no light at all
    Damp on the floor you got damp in the bed
    They’re trying to get you crazy get you out of your head
    And they feed you scraps and they feed you lies
    To lower your defenses, no compromise
    Nothing you can do, the day can be long
    You mind is working overtime, your body’s not too strong
    Hold on, hold on, hold on,
    Hold on, hold on, hold on

    They put you in a box so you can’t get heard
    Let your spirit stay unbroken, may you not be deterred
    Hold on, you have gambled with your own life
    Now you face the night alone
    While the builders of the cages
    Sleep with bullets, bars and stone
    They do not see the road to freedom
    That you build with flesh and bone

    They take you out and the light burns your eyes
    To the talking room it’s no surprise
    Loaded questions from clean white coats
    Their eyes are all as hidden as their Hippocratic Oath
    They tell you how to behave, behave as their guest
    You want to resist them, you do your best
    They take you to your limits, they take you beyond
    For all that they are doing there’s no way to respond
    Hold on, hold on

    They put you in a box so you can’t get heard
    Let your spirit stay unbroken, may you not be deterred
    Hold on, you have gambled with your own life
    Now you face the night alone
    While the builders of the cages
    Sleep with bullets, bars and stone
    They do not see the road to freedom
    That you build with flesh and bone

    Though you may disappear, you’re not forgotten here
    And I will say to you, I will do what I can do
    You may disappear, you’re not forgotten here
    And I will say you you, I will do what I can do
    And I will do what I can do
    I will do what I can do

    • #8
    • July 4, 2017 at 4:03 am
    • Like1 like
  9. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    That song is why I used to write letters on behalf of the unjustly prisoned when I was a young person through Amnesty International.

    Each month they would send me the names of three prisoners of conscience in far-off places and I would type up my letters on my PCJr and send them off.

    I can’t support Amnesty anymore because of their current pro-abortion position, but I will always respect the founders of that organization.

    This little post isn’t very much, but I will do what I can do.

    • #9
    • July 4, 2017 at 4:07 am
    • Like6 likes
  10. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    If you read this post, please like it so that it can be on the Main Feed and seen by more people.

    “You may disappear, you’re not forgotten here, and I will say to you, I will do what I can do.”

    • #10
    • July 4, 2017 at 7:18 am
    • Like4 likes
  11. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    Thanks, Powers-That-Be!

    • #11
    • July 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm
    • LikeLike
  12. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Thatcher

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    As Liu Xiaobo says himself in the video I shared above, “My optimism about China is not something I judge by what the authorities are doing. but by the growing power of ordinary people. . . . But we cannot expect things to change overnight in China. I think it’s a very slow process.”

    The journalist then asks, “Within your lifetime?”

    “Maybe not, despite all my efforts for so long,” he laughs.

    I hope he is still able to laugh after imprisonment and sickness. Lord, continue to sustain him and bring him courage.

    Amen. Freedom of body, to match his freedom of mind and spirit.

    • #12
    • July 5, 2017 at 10:02 am
    • Like2 likes
  13. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Post author

    The New York Times is reporting that two foreign doctors were able to examine Mr. Liu on Saturday and said that he is still strong enough to travel abroad to seek treatment for his liver cancer. The Hong Kong Free Press calls this a direct contradiction to the authorities’ assertions that he is too weak to be moved.

    American oncology expert Joseph Herman from the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center and German doctor Markus Buchler of Heidelberg University both examined him and said their hospitals would take him as a patient and offered hope for additional treatment.

    Patrick Poon of Amnesty International said, “The statement by the two experts shows that the Chinese authorities lied when the hospital released the statement yesterday.”

    It does not seem likely that the government will make an exception to its restrictions on his travel, but I live in hope.

    liu xiaobo

    • #13
    • July 9, 2017 at 9:16 am
    • Like2 likes
  14. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Thatcher

    I do, too, and similarly for young Charlie Gard. (Who seems a prisoner of an intransigent judiciary/medico-legal apparatus.) Kyrie, eleison!

    • #14
    • July 9, 2017 at 12:56 pm
    • Like2 likes