An Urgent Appeal for Liu Xiaobo
His Excellency Mr Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
The People’s Republic of China
We, the undersigned, write to express our concern over the health condition of Liu Xiaobo, recently granted medical parole, and to ask you to ensure his unrestricted freedom as he undergoes medical treatment for what we understand to be a grave and potentially fatal disease. For many of us associated with PEN America, Liu Xiaobo has been a treasured colleague and friend; news of his illness is heartbreaking and we hope that you will show him compassion.
As you are aware and as the international community has recently learned, Liu has been hospitalized for treatment of late-stage liver cancer and his medical condition is serious. He has reportedly been refused permission to travel outside the country for medical treatment, and has similarly been refused permission to return to his home of Beijing for medical care. Liu, a literary critic, writer, professor, and human rights activist, has been serving an 11-year prison term for calling for political reforms. He is China’s only Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
Liu Xiaobo’s wife, the poet Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since 2010—despite not being charged with any crime—and she is also reported to be in ill-health. Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia have not been allowed to correspond with each other, and their visitation rights have been restricted to closely monitored and controlled visits.
We appeal to you on humanitarian grounds to ensure that Liu Xiaobo is allowed unrestricted access to friends, family, and others during his medical parole, including through the release of Liu Xia from house arrest. We further ask that you ensure that Liu Xiaobo is provided unfettered opportunity to research treatment options and to connect to local and international contacts who can provide advice and assistance. We hope you will permit him the freedom to secure the medical care of his own choosing, including the freedom to determine his own medical provider and course of treatment, including treatment outside of China should he so choose. Finally, for humanitarian reasons, we ask you to commute Liu Xiaobo’s sentence and permit him to be with his family.
After more than eight years in prison with severely limited contacts with his family and the outside world, Liu Xiaobo has been a ward of the Chinese state. We applaud your decision to grant him medical parole, and hope that it will be accompanied with due regard for the steps necessary to ensure that, however much time he may have, he is afforded the dignity and autonomy that every human being deserves.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Kwame Anthony Appiah