Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Chinese government is pursuing its crackdown against dissidents a month after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Sentenced to 11 years on subversion charges, the dissident co-authored the pro-democracy manifesto Charter 08. Chinese authorities are afraid that a leading Chinese figure might leave the country to accept the prize on Liu’s behalf. Meanwhile, the latter remains jailed in Jinzhou prison in Liaoning.
Mo Shaoping, a lawyer who has represented most Chinese dissidents in court, was stopped from boarding a plane at Beijing International Airport. He was on his way to a lawyers' conference in London. “They said it was because I may do something to harm national interests,” he explained.
Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, had mentioned Mo as someone who might go to Norway to accept the prize on the dissident’s behalf at the 10 December ceremony. She and dozens of dissidents have been under house arrest since 8 October when the prestigious prize was announced.
Liu Xiaobo, 54, is a literature professor. Last year, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his writings on democracy.
Other important dissidents have been arrested as well. A list drawn up by Chinese Human Rights Defenders includes Guo Xianliang, an engineer in Yunnan, who was seized in Guangzhou as he handed out flyers about Liu Xiaobo. He is currently detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” the same offence for which Liu Xiaobo is imprisoned.
Wang Lihong, Wu Gan and Zhao Changqing were given lighter sentences. They received eight days of administrative detention after police detained them at a gathering on 8 October to celebrate Liu’s victory. They have been released but are currently under strict surveillance. (For more on dissidents under arrest, see “Crackdown against dissidents continues after Liu Xiaobo Nobel,” in AsiaNews, 21 October 2010).