July 14, 2017
Chinese lawyers have joined intellectuals in paying tribute to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died of cancer at the age of 61 on Thursday afternoon while in custody.
As information related to dissidents like Liu is still largely censored on Chinese media, much of the mourning was done privately and through social media. Lawyers, writers, professors, artists and journalists took to social media outlets such as Twitter, WeChat and Weibo to share Liu’s work—especially his final statement before going to prison in 2009: He famously said then that he had “no enemies and no hatred.”
In advocating the rule of law and upholding the Constitution, Liu Xiaobo’s cause was shared by many of the country’s human rights lawyers. Well-known rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang is among those who signed Charter 08.
On July 9, a few days prior to Liu’s death, lawyers in China, Hong Kong and overseas gathered for the two-year anniversary of the crackdown on Beijing-based Fengrui Law Firm. On July 9, 2015, more than 200 lawyers and associated staffers were arrested. So far, several lawyers are still being detained without having been charged and with no access to communication with anyone outside prison; others are serving prison sentences, are on parole, or are under house arrest.
“The working environment for rights lawyers remains hostile in China,” Albert Ho, a Hong Kong lawyer and chair of the nonprofit China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, said at the July 9 gathering before the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.