China

Liu Xiaobo: In his own words

A protester holds an image of jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo outside the Chinese Embassy in Oslo, Norway on 9 December 2010. Image copyright Reuters

Liu Xiaobo, a highly respected writer and political thinker who consistently advocated peaceful political reform in China, has died at the age of 61 while in state custody. Here is a selection of thoughts and observations he made throughout his life.

On life as a political dissident

"If you want to enter hell, don't complain of the dark; you can't blame the world for being unfair if you start on the path of the rebel" - he wrote in 1992

On his innocence

"There is nothing criminal in anything I have done but I have no complaints" - speaking in court in 2009

His 2010 Nobel lecture: 'I have no enemies'

"Hatred can rot away at a person's intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society's tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation's progress toward freedom and democracy. That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation's development and social change, to counter the regime's hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love."

"Merely for publishing different political views and taking part in a peaceful democracy movement, a teacher lost his lectern, a writer lost his right to publish, and a public intellectual lost the opportunity to give talks publicly."

"I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies. Although there is no way I can accept your monitoring, arrests, indictments, and verdicts, I respect your professions and your integrity."

"Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth."

Mr Liu's Nobel lecture was delivered in absentia at the Nobel ceremony. It was taken from a speech he wrote in December 2009, days before he was jailed.

On the future of democracy in China

"I always think that reforms and turning China into a free country is a long and tortuous process. Despite this, in a totalitarian state, the fight for freedom comes from the accumulative efforts of the people; without such efforts, very little will happen. One can see that there are many failures and sadness during this process, and most struggle for human rights will result in failure; but it is a continuous awakening, which will not be contained by lies and repression. There will be an accumulative effect in all fields, and when it reaches certain point, it will result in some partial reform of the system in China" - speaking to BBC Chinese in 2005

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Liu Xiaobo with his wife Xia. He described her love as "the sunlight" filling his life with meaning

"I firmly believe that China's political progress will not stop, and I, filled with optimism, look forward to the advent of a future free China. For there is no force that can put an end to the human quest for freedom, and China will in the end become a nation ruled by law, where human rights reign supreme" - a statement from his 2009 trial

"In China the underworld and officialdom have interpenetrated and become one. Criminal elements have become officialised as officials have become criminalised" - in an essay published in 2012

On 1989 Tiananmen Square protests

"That bloody dawn in 1989 .. showed me how shallow and self-centred I still was, taught me to recognise the warmth and the inner strength of love, and gave me new appreciation of what is most important in life. I knew from that time on I would forever be living with the guilt of a survivor and in awe of the souls of the dead" - he wrote in 2003

On the West

"I have viewed the West as if it were not only the salvation of China but also the natural and ultimate destination of all humanity" - he wrote in 1990

On love, relationships and children

"I found all the beauty in the world in this one woman" - he told a friend after meeting his future wife Liu Xia

"I do not want that child, a son or a daughter, to see their father be taken away by the police" - to a friend about the prospect of having children

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Liu Xiaobo's speech from court was read out at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

"Throughout all these years that I have lived without freedom, our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savour its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body, allowing me to always keep peace, openness, and brightness in my heart, and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning. My love for you, on the other hand, is so full of remorse and regret that it at times makes me stagger under its weight." - acknowledgement to his wife in his December 2009 statement

On difficulties of everyday life

"At Liu Xia's birthday, her best friend brought two bottles of wine but they were blocked by the police from my home. I ordered a cake and the police also rejected the man who delivered the cake to us. I quarrelled with them and the police said: "It is for your security. Bomb attacks are common these days" - he once told a Hong Kong newspaper, before his imprisonment

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