CANCER-stricken Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo is said to be at death’s door but authorities in China have refused calls to send him abroad for emergency treatment.
A Chinese vice minister of justice reportedly met with diplomats from the US, Germany and the EU to discuss Liu’s case on Thursday and informed them then that the writer, literary critic and human rights defender was too sick to travel.
This is despite requests from Liu’s family and Liu himself. According to South China Morning Post, a statement bearing the signature of Liu’s wife Liu Xia was posted on Twitter this week, in which Xia said she wanted to leave China with her husband and her brother.
The statement was posted by writer and activist Liao Yiwu, who lives in Germany.
“It is their desperate wish to receive medical treatment overseas. This is genuine. Xiaobo says he would rather die in the West,” Liao was quoted writing on the microblogging site on Wednesday.
— 廖亦武 Liao Yiwu (@liaoyiwu1) June 28, 2017
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy also confirmed earlier in the week that Liu’s family members were keen on sending him medical attention abroad, SCMP reported.
On Friday, when asked about China’s discussions with other countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said: “The relevant issue is an internal affair of China’s. I cannot see any need to discuss this with any other country.”
The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, called on China to immediately grant Liu parole on humanitarian grounds, allow him to be treated overseas if he wished and freely communicate with the outside world.
One source close to Liu’s family said he did not consider the change in Liu’s illness sufficient reason for him to want to stay in China.
“Liu Xiaobo is not just looking for a place to die free; he also wants to find a means of freeing his wife and brother,” the source said.
On Saturday, a family member said Liu’s “time is limited” due to a fluid build-up around his stomach caused by liver scarring.
“His physical condition is not good and has shifted to ascites due to cirrhosis,” the family member said in a message seen by Reuters, referring to a build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity caused by advanced liver scarring.
“It seems his time is limited,” the message said.
Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo who was sentenced for 11 yrs is in the final stage of liver cancer. pic.twitter.com/fYOWR73f9w
— Vanessa 文姗 (@Vanessa_Zhang18) June 26, 2017
Two sources close to the family confirmed the authenticity of the message, which was sent late on Thursday, but asked that both their identities and the identity of the sender remain secret to avoid harassment from authorities.
A man who answered the phone at the hospital where Liu is being treated said he was not aware of the case.
The 61-year-old Liu was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as the “Charter 08”, which called for sweeping political reforms in China.
He was in December 2010 awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work promoting human rights in China, a move that led to Beijing freezing ties with Norway. Both powers normalised relations, however, in December 2016.
On Monday, the Liaoning Prison Administration Bureau confirmed that Liu had been granted medical parole due to his liver cancer. He is currently in a hospital in north China’s Shenyang city, where a team of eight experts have been assigned to treat him.
Liu’s lawyers and friends, and human rights activists, meanwhile, continue to rail against the Chinese authorities for not granting parole earlier. Western politicians and rights activists have also voiced concern about the quality of Liu’s treatment in China and say he should be allowed to leave China if that was the best option.
Many are also demanding that China grant Liu an unconditional release, on account of his condition.
According to reports, Liu was diagnosed with cancer more than a month ago.
Additional reporting from Reuters