On Friday, the local chapter of Amnesty International visited Portland State to present a compilation of video interviews of Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo.
On Friday, the local chapter of Amnesty International visited Portland State to present a compilation of video interviews of Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. Dr. Bruce Gilley, a political science professor at PSU, followed the presentation with an analysis.
Liu is one of over 500 Chinese political detainees that are held under house arrest, in labor camps or in prisons in the People’s Republic of China. He is a literary critic, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The Dui Hua Foundation, based in San Francisco, counted 742 political prisoners in 2007. However, others estimate a total of up to
3,000 prisoners, since those under house arrest are not officially counted.
Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, is one of these prisoners. Unable to leave the house or answer any questions, she remains inside all day while her 54-year-old husband is in prison.
In 2008, Liu was incarcerated for 11 years on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” in response to his organization and participation with Charter 08, a proposal signed by over 350 Chinese human rights activists to promote political reform and democratization in China.
While serving his fourth term in prison, Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for human rights in China.
Gilley, who testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in Washington D.C., along with the Human Rights Watch, the PEN Center and the Council of Foreign Relations, said that the incarceration of Liu reveals how hard it is for the Chinese government to maintain control over its citizens.
“They jailed him because he is an easy target,” Gilley said. “But there are another
300 people who signed the [Charter 08] petition.”
In a letter released in October by Liu’s U.S. lawyers, it was said that the release of Liu would be an “extraordinary recognition” of the transformation China has undergone in the past couple of decades.
“It’s a damned shame that China is able to bully otherwise powerful and seemingly fair-minded countries into staying out of human rights affairs,” audience member Jacob Clery said after the presentation. “I hope that something can be done to avert it.”
Though it remains unclear what action China will take in regards to the release of Liu, Amnesty International Group 48 Coordinator Joanne Lau asks that people send politely worded appeals to Prime Minister Wen Jiabao urging the authorities to release Liu, guarantee he is not tortured while he remains in custody and ensure he has access to his family and lawyers. ?