China: five years after the death of press freedom defender Liu Xiaobo, RSF calls on democracies to step up pressure on the regime

Freedom. Freedom is at the heart of universal human values. Freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of place to live and the freedoms to strike, demonstrate and protest, among others, are the forms that the freedom. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.” (Charter 08 originally signed by 303 scholars and intellectuals on December 10, 2008).

Five years after the death of the winner of the 2004 RSF Prize and the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Liu Xiaoboembodying the fight of the Chinese people for freedom of the press and who died on July 13, 2017 of untreated cancer in detention, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the international community to significantly intensify the pressure on the Chinese regime to end its policy of censorship and surveillance of the media and ensure the full exercise of freedom of the press, a right enshrined in Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China.

Liu Xiaobo, a political commentator and writer, author of nearly 800 essays, was a longtime advocate of political reform and human rights, including press freedom. During the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989, Liu took an active role as a pro-democracy protester and launched a hunger strike in support of students. In the years that followed, in retaliation for his writings and his activism, he was imprisoned several times, sent to a re-education center and placed under house arrest.

Sentenced to 11 years for calling for press freedom

In 2009, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting the subversion of state power” for contributing to the Charter 08, a 19-point program originally signed by 303 scholars and intellectuals who demanded greater political freedoms, including the enforcement of freedom of the press. Liu died in 2017, six weeks after diagnosis that he was terminally ill and denial of the overseas treatment regime. The regime also persecuted Liu Xiaobo’s widow, poet and photographer. Liu Xiaowho was under house arrest from 2010 to 2018 until she was finally allowed into exile in Germany.

In China, detained journalists are almost systematically victims of ill-treatment and deprived of medical care: in 2017, political commentator Yang Tongian died of untreated cancer while in custody. Kunchok Jinpamain source of information on Tibet for journalists, died in 2021 as a result of ill-treatment in prison.

In 2021, RSF published an unpublished investigative report titled “The great backward step of journalism in China‘, which reveals Beijing’s crackdown on journalism and the right to information around the world.

China ranks 175th out of 180 countries in 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index and currently detains at least 123 journalists and press freedom activists.

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