OSLO: The Norwegian Nobel Committee said on Thursday that China bears a “heavy responsibility” for the “premature” death of 2010 Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
The prominent democracy advocate, 61, died while still in custody following a battle with cancer.
Officials ignored international pleas to let him spend his final days free and abroad. Germany and the US had offered to take him in for treatment.
“We find it deeply disturbing that Liu Xiaobo was not transferred to a facility where he could receive adequate medical treatment before he became terminally ill,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, who chairs the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said in a statement.
“The Chinese government bears heavy responsibility for his premature death.”
Liu was transferred from prison to a heavily guarded hospital to be treated for late-stage liver cancer more than a month ago.
He became the first Nobel Peace laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital while held by the Nazis in 1938.
Liu was not able to attend the award ceremony in Oslo in 2010 as he was already serving an 11-year prison sentence for allegedly “attempting to undermine political order”.
The former head of the Nobel committee placed that year’s peace prize on an empty chair to honour Liu.
“We now have to come to terms with the fact that his chair will forever remain empty,” Reiss-Andersen added.
“At the same time it is our deep conviction that Liu Xiaobo will remain a powerful symbol for all who fight for freedom, democracy and a better world.”