RFA Reports on Jailed Chinese Dissident and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo

RFA’s Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tibetan services aired daily reports from Oslo, site of the award ceremony for imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, accompanied by videos and photos. Liu Xiaobo, 54, is currently serving an 11-year prison term on subversion charges for urging reforms to China’s one-party political system. His wife, Liu Xia, was also under house arrest in Beijing.

RFA reporters covered the ceremony in real time on Facebook, with instant photos, relaying the historical event to netizens. Mandarin reporter Shen Hua interviewed several dignitaries in attendance, including U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee member Chris Smith, who called on China to end its persecution of dissidents and to begin genuine political reform. 

The Tibetan service’s coverage included interviews with several Tibetans participating in the ceremony. Chundak Kuren, a Tibetan woman who has been a regular invitee to the Nobel Peace Award Ceremony since the 1989 when His Holiness the Dalai Lama was the recipient of the award, shared her experiences.

RFA reported worldwide reaction and included video footage and photos of the following:

  • In Washington, more than 100 American statesmen and Chinese rights activists attended a celebration held at the Victims of Communism Memorial.
  • In Beijing (filed from Hong Kong), both CNN and BBC TV were blacked out at the exact time of the Oslo ceremony. Security outside Liu Xiaobo’s apartment in Beijing was heavy and police cars lined a nearby road.  On the Internet, a cartoon about Liu drawn by Chinese netizens titled “Hope and Struggle” was circulated, together with pictures of the award ceremony and of Liu’s empty chair.
  • China detained and imposed exit bans on a large number of civil rights activists before the ceremony, including placing Beijing-based writer Yu Jie and Tibetan writer Woeser under house arrest.
  • In Hong Kong, pro-democracy politicians and activists celebrated the award with rallies.
  • In Taipei, Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou urged Chinese authorities to free Liu Xiaobo.
  • In Rangoon (filed from Kuala Lumpur), Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, encouraged Liu Xiaobo to stick to his principles.
  • In Moscow, Russian rights activists rallied outside the Chinese embassy to protest the continuing jailing of Liu Xiaobo and blast Russia’s boycott of the Nobel ceremony.

On Dec. 17, the Mandarin service reported that authorities were continuing to deny prison visits by Liu Xiaobo’s family members, and had banned Liu Xia’s father from visiting his daughter under house arrest.