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Calls increase for release of ailing Liu Xiaobo


HONG KONG (SE): News of the release on medical parole of Nobel laureate, literary critic, scholar and human rights advocate, Liu Xiaobo, flooded media outlets on June 26. The Guardian reported one of Liu's lawyers, Shang Baojun, as saying that the he had been diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer on May 23.
He is reportedly being treated at the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang, Liaoning province, but remains under surveillance.
The 61-year-old Liu is a signatory of the Charter 08 reform manifesto and has been in prison since 2009 serving an 11 sentence for "inciting subversion of state power."
The South China Morning Post reported on June 28 that Ye Du, a Guangzhou-based pro-democracy advocate, said that Liu was reunited with his wife, Liu Xia, and his younger brother Liu Xiaoxuan about a week before news of his hosptialisation broke.
The Justice and Peace Commission together with several rights groups protested outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government, Western District, on June 27 calling for Liu's full release.
In a joint statement, the groups said it was inhumane of the Chinese government to have ignored Liu's illnesse.
They demanded an investigation into the case to find out why Liu was not sent for proper treatment sooner and that his health records over the past years be disclosed to his family.
They stressed that both Liu and his wife should be allowed to make normal contact with the outside world.
The rights groups also pointed out that Liu should be treated in a hospital of his own choosing.
In a June 26 statement, the Nobel Committee reiterated its invitiation for Liu to come to Oslo, Norway, to claim his prize. It called for his unconditional release and for him to be allowed "best possible treatment for his illness, whether it be in China or abroad."
The committee said, "Liu Xiaobo has fought a relentless struggle in favour of democracy and human rights in China and has already paid a heavy price. Chinese authorities carry a heavy responsibility if Liu Xiaobo, because of his imprisonment, has been denied necessary medical treatment."
Olav Njølstad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said, "I felt relief and sorrow. Relief because he was finally out of prison. Sorrow because it appears that it took serious illness before Chinese authorities were willing to release him from jail."

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