AFP-JijiSHENYANG, China (AFP-Jiji) — Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo died Thursday after losing his battle with terminal cancer, remaining in custody under guard in hospital until his last breath as Beijing faced a wave of criticism over its treatment of the Tiananmen Square protest veteran.
China bears a “heavy responsibility” for the death of Liu, the Nobel Committee said, less than two months after the 61-year-old was transferred to hospital from prison.
International human rights groups, Western governments and Chinese activists had urged authorities to free Liu and grant his final wish to be treated abroad.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed Liu as a “courageous fighter for human rights,” while British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was “wrong” China did not allow him to travel overseas for treatment.
Liu became the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1938, who had been held by the Nazis.
The Nobel Committee said in a statement, “We find it deeply disturbing that Liu Xiaobo was not transferred to a facility where he could receive adequate medical treatment before he became terminally ill.”
“The Chinese government bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death.”
However, even as Germany called him a “hero” of democracy and voiced “regret” that China brushed off its offer to host Liu, U.S. President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron offered praise for China’s Xi Jinping at a press conference Thursday in Paris, avoiding comment on Liu’s death.