|Liu Xiaobo, China's foremost political dissident and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize recently passed away from liver cancer which likely could have been prevented had there been any desire on the part of the authorities to save him. In fact, it took less than two days for the Chinese to cremate and scatter Liu's ashes which, as a result, solved a prolonged problem of the Politburo.
Liu became a thorn in the side of China when he emerged as a prominent figure in the pro-democracy movement 28 years ago that resulted in the wanton deaths in Tiananmen Square. In fact, Liu had rushed back to China from Columbia University to join the movement. He was named an "enemy of the state" and imprisoned on four different occasions including a recent 11-year sentence for promulgating an independent judiciary, respect for human rights and an end to one-party rule in China.
China's treatment of Liu attracted international criticism when China would not grant him permission to travel to Oslo in 2010 to receive his Nobel prize. The poignant image below reflects the prize next to an empty chair. His photograph in the background was his only representation that day.
Liu was paroled from prison once he was diagnosed with late stage liver cancer. The irony of this situation is the prison population of China was historically a favorite source for liver transplants. In fact, the author played a role in arranging a financially brokered transplant for a close Mongolian friend that was cancelled at the last minute due to a government policy change prior to the Olympics in an attempt to improve China's image. Liver transplant donors were literally tailor-measured to fit the patient from an inventory of live prisoners that had their execution dates aligned with the surgeries for which the government received compensation.
In fact, a Chinese friend said there is a prison wing devoted to the body needs of 91 year old Jiang Zemin, former leader of China. He has had two heart transplants to keep him going. Therefore, where there is a will, there is a way while Jiang Zemin keeps on ticking and smiling.
However, there was no will and no way in Liu's case for the leadership of China to forego the opportunity to rid itself of 61 year old Liu by natural causes. In fact, numerous attempts to move him to the West for treatment were denied. He is shown below under the care of his wife, Liu Xia.
The last image we have of Liu Xia is at the hastily arranged scattering of her husband's ashes at sea where there would be no trace to serve as a memorial. She remains under house arrest for being guilty by association. Most Chinese only learned of Liu's death from foreign news accounts.
Protests and memorials in Hong Kong were openly held though there were ramifications from certain mainland, Mandarin-speaking "plain clothes" Chinese in an otherwise Cantonese-only speaking part of the world. Obviously, the moral cancer has spread from mainland China to the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong. Moreover, what were once community service punishments for activists seeking free elections, have now become prison sentences following Beijing pressure to throttle any form of dissent.
We should all remember the basic tenets that Liu Xiaobo put forth and sacrificed his life to promote as we watch our own governments, politicians and leaders.