China lodges protests with countries over 'dissident', Liu Xiaobo's death

Attention on freedom of Liu’s widow after dissident’s death

He was represented by an empty chair at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 2010.

Hu Jia, a fellow dissident and family friend, said Liu Xia's freedom was now a top priority for Liu Xiaobo's supporters. His death, of multiple organ failure at the age of 61 yesterday, makes Liu the first Nobel Peace laureate to die in state custody since Carl von Ossietzky in Nazi Germany in 1938.

Earlier, Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had praised Liu and called for his wife to be released.

"I call on the Chinese government to release Liu Xia from house arrest and allow her to depart China, according to her wishes".

Rights groups accused authorities of manipulating information about his health and refusing to let him leave because they were afraid he would use the freedom to denounce China's one-party Communist regime. Liu once said, "I hope I will be the last victim in China's long record of treating words as crimes".

"She and her brother, Liu Hui, should immediately be allowed to leave for Germany or another country of their choice if they wish to".

File image of Liu Xiaobo.

However, at this point, it's not clear how Liu Xia is living.

Turkish writer Elif Shafak hailed Lui "a fearless and generous soul who dared to stand for freedom", and United Kingdom poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy praised him for his work, power, courage and love with thanks for "everything you have done in your fight for a better world".

Dozens of Liu's supporters were prevented from leaving the country to accept the award on his behalf.

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Statement from French Foreign Minister Jean-YvesLe Drian: "I offer my condolences to all his loved ones".

"Now, we are most concerned about Liu Xia, but there has been no information about her".

A few English-language outlets carried short reports on Liu's death, highlighting his "criminal" background and the Chinese doctor's effort to save him. Liu Xiaobo was for decades a central voice for human rights and China's further development. Liu had been a visiting scholar at Columbia University in NY but returned early to China in May 1989 to join the movement that was sweeping the country and which the Communist Party regarded as a grave challenge to its authority.

On Thursday, the Nobel Committee said Beijing bore a heavy responsibility for Liu's death. But it also leveled harsh criticism at the "free world" for its "hesitant, belated reactions" to his serious illness and imprisonment.

"It is a sad and disturbing fact that the representatives of the free world, who themselves hold democracy and human rights in high regard, are less willing to stand up for those rights for the benefit of others", said the organization's chairwoman, Berit Reiss-Andersen.

Guterres' tepid reaction was a sharp contrast to that of United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who called Liu "China's iconic peace and democracy figure" and urged Chinese authorities to guarantee his wife, Liu Xia, "freedom of movement, and allow her to travel overseas should she wish so".

The government condemned the award as political farce, put Liu Xia under house arrest and even suspended a trade deal with Norway to punish the country where the prizes are awarded even though the Norwegian government has no role in the committee's decisions. "We must continue to uphold his dream".

Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement: "Today we grieve the loss of a giant of human rights".

"In respect of [Liu's] wife, we think [China] should act appropriately from the standpoint of freedom, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law".

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