Last week, the Liaoning Provincial Prison Administrative Bureau announced that Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) had been diagnosed with liver cancer and was to be released on medical parole.
A team of eight “renowned cancer specialists” had been set up to treat him, authorities said.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is adept at lying.
Liu’s wife, Liu Xia (劉霞), and a friend can be seen in a video fighting back tears and saying that Liu Xiaobo had not even received the most basic treatment. He cannot have surgery or undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
His wife said she had asked to see his medical files, but prison authorities refused.
Why are the authorities refusing to reveal any information on Liu Xiaobo’s condition?
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is head of the CCP: That his physical condition is a matter of the highest confidentiality and of national security is understandable under an authoritarian system. It could be said to be characteristic of such a system.
By comparison, the physical condition of a leader or head of government within a democratic system must be made public, and if such people sought to keep their health confidential, the opposition would likely make them public.
However, Liu Xiaobo is not a senior government official. He is an ordinary citizen, albeit one locked behind bars. His health has nothing to do with national security. There must be something more to make the CCP behave like this.
Before Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for the fourth time, he had always been a very healthy person. In the 10 years I knew him, from 1999 to 2008, I never once heard that he was sick.
He always had a fantastic appetite, slept well, and was full of energy and in high spirits.
I once suggested he get a full medical checkup and he told me his tests were all normal, in many cases better than mine, and I am almost 20 years younger than him.
However, after he went to prison this time, his health very quickly deteriorated due to the terrible conditions in jail.
First, he started having digestion problems and he requested gruel instead of steamed bread for breakfast. This perfectly normal request went unheeded for a long time.
Liu Xiaobo was then diagnosed with hepatitis B: Clearly the conditions in the jail were deplorable and having hepatitis B in prison can be disastrous, as prison authorities use no inoculations or preventative measures.
In a CCP-run jail, prisoners are not people, they are dead men walking.
Liu Xiaobo’s treatment was worse even than the other prisoners? Ordinary prisoners can bribe the guards to increase the number of family visits allowed and their families can bring them more food and everyday items.
Liu Xiaobo was not given any letters from his family and books that his wife sent were subject to strict inspection, withheld for months or confiscated by prison authorities or people even higher up.
The CCP is responsible for delaying Liu Xiaobo’s medical treatment and the decline of his health.
The past few years have seen countless dissidents either detained and refused immediate medical treatment or forced to take their own lives.
Zhang Jianhong (張建紅) died in 2010; Li Wangyang (李旺陽) died in 2012; Nurmuhemmet Yasi (努爾莫哈提．亞辛) died in 2013; Cao Shunli (曹順利) and Wang Rongqing (王榮清) died in 2014; Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in 2015; and Peng Ming (彭明) died last year.
Liu Xiaobo is not the first and he certainly will not be the last.
Yu Jie is an exiled Chinese dissident writer.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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