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Light a Candle for Liu Xiaobo

By Edward Nawotka


We’ve been remiss in not writing about the trial and sentencing of literary critic and political commentator Liu Xiaobo (please forgive us), which took place over the holidays. For a year Liu Xiaobo has been under arrest — at first, with no formal charge, then in July on the ominous charge of “inciting subversion of state power” for co-authoring Charter 08, a direct appeal to the Chinese government for political reform. The appeal was signed by 10,000 people, including intellectuals and political activists. (The New York Review of Book has a good summary.) His trial that took place on December 25 and Liu was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment — the longest such sentence for subversion in a decade.

The trial has brought renewed and much needed attention to his cause. Over the past several weeks writers across the world have protested, including former Czech president Vaclav Havel (who authored Charter 77, the document written in 1977 and aimed at Soviet oppression on which Charter 08 was based) and members of PEN. Tonight in Hong Kong, protestors have organized a candlelight vigil for Liu Xiaobo, as the struggle for his release continues.

You, too, can help by writing a letter of protest on your own and PEN’s petition to free Liu Xiaobo here or write Chinese premier Hu Jintao a letter. As Jaroslaw Adamowski wrote in the Guardian last week, “Perhaps it is time to dust off the good old samizdat.”

(Image via FreeFoto.com)

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One Comment

  1. Chas
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Ed, do you know Liu Xiaobo received hundreds of thousands of US government funding via the NED in the past five years. Check NED’s China grants for Independent Chinese Pen Center and Minzhu Zhongguo magazine, which Liu heads.

    If Liu is American he’d be in violation of Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Pray tell, why would we lament Chinese money corrupting our political process, while sending many folds more to China, to corrupt their political process?

    This is by no means a straight forward case of free speech. Liu took foreign money the Chinese government has every right to prohibit (as we do under FARA.)

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