TAIPEI – Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres), which advocates freedom of information around the world, on Tuesday accused Chinese authorities of having “murdered” Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo by denying him proper medical care during his incarceration.
“We can clearly state that Liu Xiaobo was murdered by the lack of care,” RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire told a news conference held to formally launch an RSF bureau in Taipei, the Paris-headquartered media rights watchdog’s first in Asia.
Deloire rejected the claim that Chinese authorities did not know that Liu, who died last Thursday of multiple organ failure related to liver cancer, was seriously ill until just weeks before his death.
He urged democratic governments around the world to work for the release of other political prisoners in China, as well as jailed journalists, before it is too late for them, while he also called for Liu’s widow, Liu Xia, to be freed from house arrest.
If it happens again, he said, it “will be a failure for all democracies and for our own societies.”
Liu Xia was last seen in photographs and a video clip provided by Chinese authorities of her husband’s funeral and sea burial on Saturday.
A Hong Kong-based concern group, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, quoted an unnamed relative of hers as saying Tuesday that she and her brother have been sent to southwestern China’s Yunnan Province on a “traveling tour” and that she would be allowed to return home in Beijing no earlier than Thursday.
Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, proposed at the news conference in Taipei that Taiwan erect a monument to Liu and designate July 13 as the day to commemorate his death.
“It is our duty to remember who died to make a better life for us,” she said.
Wu’er Kaixi, known for his leading role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests, agreed, saying remembering a person like Liu is “the most humble but important power an individual possesses against tyranny.”
“I call upon the whole world to let each other know that we are determined to remember,” said the Chinese dissident, who serves as a member of the RSF Emeritus Board.
The RSF’s bureau in Taipei will monitor press freedom in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia and Taiwan.
The association said it chose Taiwan due to the self-ruled island’s central geographic location and ease of operating logistics, as well as its status of being the freest place in Asia in the group’s annual World Press Freedom Index ranking.
Praising Taiwan’s strides, Deloire said Monday in a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, “We hope this ‘freedom laboratory’ will be an example for the rest of the continent, amid a global decline in media freedom.”
“To this end, Taiwan must resist violations of the independence of its journalists, especially those carried out under Beijing’s influence, and must improve its legislation,” he said.
In his remarks Tuesday, Deloire said RSF decided against establishing its first Asian bureau in Hong Kong due to concerns over limits on freedom of speech there and possible surveillance of its staff.
He said the Chinese government, like that in Russia, “wants to set up a new world media order” and “wants to change the world before we succeed to change China.”