Freedom House, IFJ, and RSF demand immediate release of Liu Xiaobo

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have written to the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, to demand the immediate release of dissident Liu Xiaobo, and permission for he and his wife to travel overseas for urgent medical treatment.


Xi Jinping, President of China
Li Keqiang, Premier of China
Zhou Qiang, Chief Justice and President of the Supreme People’s Court of China

Dear President Xi,

The International Federation of Journalists, representing more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), are writing to you to seek your urgent intervention to grant Liu Xiaobo permission to travel overseas on humanitarian grounds.

We express serious concerns for the medical condition of Liu Xiaobo, who was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on May 23, 2017. Since his diagnosis, Liu has been granted medical parole in China, and is currently hospitalized in Shenyang. However, his condition has not improved and he has not been able to undergo surgery or commence the required chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment. His condition remains listed as ‘extremely serious’.

Liu Xiaobo is the first Chinese recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which he was awarded for his writings promoting democracy. In 2009, he was jailed for 11 years for helping write a petition in 2008 which called for widespread political liberalisation of China. The document, Charter 08, was signed by hundreds of activists and scholars. He was arrested 12 months later and convicted of ‘inciting subversion of state power’.

Serious questions have been raised about the quality of care that Liu has received, given that his cancer was diagnosed at such a late stage, and the current treatment that he is receiving appears inadequate.

The treatment of Liu during his detention and now with his poor health raises serious questions about China’s commitment to local and international laws.

We call for your urgent intervention as the President of the People’s Republic of China to grant Liu a transfer overseas for medical treatment. We would also like to remind you and the Government of the People’s Republic of China of its obligations under Article 98 of the General Principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China that guarantees people the right to life. This is also guaranteed in Article 6(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which China signed in 1988.

We also request that you intervene in your authority to order the immediate release of Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia from house arrest. She has been under house arrest without any formal charges since Liu’s arrest in 2008. Her health is also deteriorating and she has yet to visit her husband.

We call on you, as the President of the People’s Republic of China, to immediately grant Liu Xiaobo release and permission to travel to seek life-saving medical treatment.

Yours Sincerely,

International Federation of Journalists
Freedom House
Reporters Without Borders