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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Liu Xiaobo Profile

October 13, 2010

By Bill Smith
Monsters and Critics
October 8, 2010

Beijing (DPA) -- 'I believe that my work has been
just, and that someday China will be a free and
democratic country,' Liu Xiaobo said in a
statement issued by supporters shortly after he
was sentenced to 11 years in prison for subversion in December.

Liu's firm stand for democracy and freedom of
speech over two decades, despite Chinese
authorities' attempts to silence him, won him
many admirers inside and outside the country,
culminating in the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

His prison sentence was passed one year after his
arrest at his Beijing home as he was about to
release the Charter '08 for democratic reform.

Liu, 54, had previously spent about five years in
different forms of imprisonment, and many more
years under police surveillance or house arrest.

The former Beijing Normal University literature
lecturer lost his job and was detained for nearly
two years for defending students who joined the
1989 democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen
Square and urging an investigation into the
party's brutal military crackdown on the protestors.

Born in 1955 in the north-eastern city of
Changchun, by 1989 Liu was a reputed literary
critic and philosophical essayist.

He married his wife, Liu Xia, in 1996 after both had divorced previous spouses.

Shortly after the wedding, Liu Xiaobo was sent to
a 're-education through labour' camp for three
years because of his continued activism.

Following his release, Liu persisted in writing
and publishing essays critical of China's
authoritarian one-party political system under the ruling Communist Party.

In 2001, he published the essay 'The price of
suppressing Falun Gong,' in which he criticized a
crackdown on the huge spiritual movement that was
banned and labelled an 'evil cult' following anti-government protests in 1999.

He headed the Independent Chinese PEN writers'
group from 2003 and published regular critiques
of Chinese politics and society on overseas
websites, winning the 2004 press freedom prize
from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

Liu became even more publicly outspoken in the
run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing,
saying the government had broken its pre-Olympic
promises and rejected the optimism of some
Western politicians and analysts who claimed the
awarding of the games to China would encourage
greater political freedom and improvements in human rights.

'Previously, I thought the human rights situation
would improve as they promised. But now it seems
not,' Liu told the German Press Agency dpa at the time.

The same year, Liu was among a group of
dissidents who urged the government to hold
direct talks with the Dalai Lama, the exiled
Tibetan Buddhist leader, and allow a United
Nations' investigation of Tibetan areas of China.

Appealing shortly after anti-Chinese protests had
escalated into deadly ethnic violence, Liu and
the other activists accused the government of
'serious mistakes' and 'failed' policies in Tibet.

Police arrested Liu again at his Beijing home as
he was writing an article on Charter '08 in
December 2008, two days before the publication of the charter.

The charter demands sweeping changes to create a
'free, democratic and constitutional state,' and
urges the release of all political prisoners. The
original 303 signatories set out their ideals for
transforming China into a liberal democracy and
lament a lack of 'freedom, equality and human
rights' under the Communist Party.

More than 10,000 names were added to global
online petitions supporting Charter '08, which
was modelled on the Charter '77 produced by Czechoslovak dissidents.

More than 150 leading US and European-based
intellectuals, including award-winning writers
Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco, Seamus Heaney and
Hari Kunzru, issued an open letter calling for Liu's release.

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who had
signed Charter '77 as a dissident writer, joined
the calls for Liu's freedom and was one of his
most active backers for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"The Chinese government should learn well the
lesson of the Charter '77 movement: that
intimidation, propaganda campaigns and repression
are no substitute for reasoned dialogue," Havel
wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

Nearly two years after Liu's latest arrest,
international support for Liu has grown, making
him a focus of Chinese democracy activists inside and outside the country.

In the statement issued at his sentencing, Liu
said he approached his latest imprisonment "without the slightest regret.'

"I have long been aware that when an independent
intellectual stands up to an autocratic state,
step one toward freedom is often a step into
prison," he said. "Now I am taking that step; and
true freedom is that much nearer."
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