Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo handed 11-year sentence

Rowan Callick, 26/12/09

China has issued an extraordinarily harsh Christmas message to all who wish even to discuss reform, by jailing the country’s leading dissident for 11 years. It chose Christmas Day (a normal working day in China) to diminish the international impact of the crushing sentence, following a trial lasting a mere three hours, even though Liu Xiaobo pleaded not guilty. He received the longest sentence for “inciting subversion” ever suffered since this crime was listed in 1997. He has already been held in custody for more than a year. Liu was a co-author of Charter 08, a document that in Western terms would be viewed as advocating liberal social democracy – in carefully calibrated rather than pugnacious language. It was signed by 303 people from a cross-section of China, including top intellectuals as well as editors, lawyers, artists, and people who described themselves as peasants and workers.

See: Asia-Pacific editor