China: Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo released from prison on medical grounds

PEN is gravely concerned for the health of dissident writer, Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) member and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, following news of his diagnosis of late-stage liver cancer. He was released on medical parole in June 2017 and is receiving medical treatment at Shenyang Hospital, Liaoning province.
Liu Xiaobo has been serving an 11-year sentence for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ related to his part as the leading author behind ‘Charter ‘08’, a manifesto calling for protection of universal human rights and democratic reform in China. PEN believes that Liu Xiaobo has been held for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of opinion, expression and association.
PEN calls on the Chinese authorities to grant Liu Xiaobo adequate medical care allowing his direct involvement in the decision-making process, and to allow him to seek medical assistance wherever he should choose. PEN welcomes news that his wife, poet and ICPC member, Liu Xia, held under house arrest, has been allowed to visit him and urges the authorities to lift all restrictions upon her.


Spread the word

Share details of Liu Xiaobo’s case with friends and colleagues and on social media. #FreeLiuXiaobo

Write to the authorities

Please send appeal letters to the Chinese authorities:

  • Expressing concern for the health of writer and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo;
  • Reiterating calls for his immediate and unconditional release;
  • Urging the Chinese authorities to allow Liu Xiaobo to receive adequate medical care by ensuring his direct involvement in the decision-making process: allowing him to appoint the physicians of his choice and seek medical assistance wherever he should choose;
  • Calling for all restrictions upon his wife Liu Xia to be lifted thereby permitting her to accompany Liu Xiaobo, should he seek treatment abroad;
  • Calling for the release of all writers, journalists and publishers imprisoned in violation of their right to freedom of expression in the People’s Republic of China;
  • Urging the Chinese authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without delay.

Send appeals to:

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025

Salutation: Your Excellency

We recommend that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments. See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country Chinese embassies abroad


PEN members are encouraged to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Liu Xiaobo and the freedom of expression situation in China;
  • Organise public events, stage readings, press conferences or demonstrations;
  • Share Liu Xiaobo’s writings (available here:;

Remember to let us know about your activities – email


Chinese writer, PEN Member and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2008 and sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for his dissident writings and peaceful activism. His imprisonment for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ related to his part as the leading author behind ‘Charter ‘08’, a manifesto calling for protection of universal human rights and democratic reform in China.

Liu Xiaobo, who received a diagnosis of late-stage liver cancer on 23 May 2017, is currently receiving treatment in No. 1 Hospital of the China Medical University in Shenyang, Liaoning province, where eight medical experts are said to be developing a treatment plan, according to Liaoning Prison Administrative Bureau. He has reportedly been released on medical parole.

In October 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his continued and non-violent struggle for human rights in China. In prison and unable to attend the award ceremony in Oslo, he was represented by an empty chair. In his absence, Liu Xiaobo’s statement from his 2009 trial, titled I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement, was read as his Nobel lecture.

His wife, poet and artist Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest following the Nobel announcement in October 2010 and continues to be held without charge or legal due process. Her home is guarded by security officers and she has been prevented from communicating freely with the outside world. While under house arrest, Liu Xia’s health has deteriorated considerably. It remains unclear whether her house arrest has been lifted. PEN believes that the extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is intended as punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is deeply concerned for her physical and psychological well-being.

Liu Xiaobo is an Honorary Member of Scottish, German, American, Czech, Sydney, Iceland, English, Canadian and Portuguese PEN Centres.

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This content is published by the English PEN staff.

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