Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued the following statement regarding the death of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Liu Xiaobo, at a hospital in Shenyang municipality, Liaoning province:
“The news of Liu Xiaobo’s death today is beyond tragic—for his beloved wife Liu Xia, for his family, and for the millions of supporters of his courageous efforts to champion human rights and democracy in China.
“As we mourn Liu Xiaobo’s death and pray for his family, there are urgent matters that require high-level diplomatic attention in the coming days. Dr. Liu’s family must be given his remains and permitted to honor and bury him as they see fit. Liu Xia must immediately be granted an exit visa and permitted to leave China for a country of her choosing. There should be an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dr. Liu’s death, his treatment in detention, the timing of the diagnosis of his late-stage liver cancer, and countless other questions that need to be answered. The Chinese authorities complicit in his unjust imprisonment and death should be immediately sanctioned and their assets frozen under the Global Magnitsky Act.
“I urge the Trump Administration to make these matters high priorities and to convey in no uncertain terms to the Chinese government that their shameful treatment of this peaceful hero, who championed the very ideals that are at the foundation of America’s own experiment in self-government, will have real and lasting consequences.”
Rubio’s earlier statement on the medical parole of Liu Xiaobo can be accessed here. His bipartisan Senate resolution urging that Dr. Liu and his wife be permitted to travel abroad to seek proper medical treatment is available here.
The CECC has been closely monitoring Liu Xiaobo’s efforts to promote democracy, his arrest, and sentencing. On December 10, 2010, Liu Xiaobo, a writer, former literature professor, human rights activist, and one of the chief authors of Charter 08, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” He was the first Chinese national and resident in China to receive the prestigious award. However, during the awards ceremony, his chair remained empty and he was unable to claim his prize; he was serving an 11-year sentence, after being found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power.”
His wife, the artist and poet Liu Xia, was placed under illegal home confinement in Beijing shortly after the Nobel Committee’s announcement of the prize in October 2010. She remains there almost seven years later, despite never having been charged with a crime. Troubling reports indicate that her health has deteriorated during her years of arbitrary confinement.
Earlier this year, the CECC launched an initiative called “Free China’s Heroes,” in which individual political prisoners were highlighted to raise awareness about the specifics of their cases and the status of their unjust imprisonment. Liu Xiaobo, who was initially detained seven years ago on December 8, 2008, was the first prisoner featured. His case is also part of the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database (PPD) that contains searchable records on more than 1,400 political and religious prisoners currently known or believed to be detained or imprisoned in China.