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Chinese democracy activist Switzerland ‘profoundly saddened’ by Liu’s death

Jailed for 'subversion of state powers', Liu was not allowed to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 2010

(Keystone)

Switzerland has joined countries around the world in expressing its sadness about the death of the Chinese Nobel Prize winner and prominent democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.

“Switzerland extends its sincere condolences to his family,” the Swiss foreign ministry said.

The statement praises Liu’s leading role as a human rights activist and his tireless efforts for democracy and tolerance in China.

“Switzerland regrets that Liu’s peaceful use of the right to freedom of expression resulted in a prison sentence for ‘undermining state power’ and that his family was denied access to him during all the years of his imprisonment.”

Liu was jailed for 11 years in 2009 after he helped write a petition calling for sweeping political reforms.

He died in custody on Thursday, aged 61, after being denied permission to leave the country for treatment for late-stage liver cancer. Switzerland was among western countries offering Liu the possibility to receive medical treatment.

Freedom of movement

The Nobel Committee, which had awarded Liu the Peace Prize in 2010, said the Chinese government bore a heavy responsibility for his death.

The Swiss foreign ministry has called on the Chinese government to allow Liu’s wife, Xia, full burial rights and to guarantee her freedom of movement.

The Chinese foreign ministry rejected the allegations, saying foreign countries were “in no position to make improper remarks” over the handling of Liu’s case.

The official Chinese media have not reported Liu’s death, according the Beijing correspondent of the SRF public radio. English language online media have carried the news, mentioning that the western world was exploiting the death for political means.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/urs


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