Even in death Liu Xiaobo is an inspiration to many Hong Kong people
Liu Xiaobo’s death has led to a lot of discussion, especially among young Hongkongers, about human rights in China.
I found his treatment distressing, not just during his years in custody, but as he was dying in hospital. I have also been upset over the treatment of his wife Liu Xia, who has remained under house arrest since 2010.
When it was clear Liu Xiaobo was seriously ill, Beijing’s reaction in treating the human rights activist was so negative. He was someone who wanted his country to develop further by consolidating democracy. He wished to present his views in a non-violent manner and was punished because of that. Foreign countries were willing to take him in for treatment and it is unacceptable that the Chinese government would not allow that.
Even after his death, his wife’s movements appear to have been restricted. She is treated in this way despite suffering from ill health.
Contrast this with Hong Kong, where we are still free to march and express our opinions.
On the mainland, such freedoms do not exist. People who call for free speech and protection of human rights get arrested and imprisoned. Some end up in re-education camps. And there have been reports of “black jails”, described by Wikipedia as a network of extra-legal prisons.
Liu’s death has highlighted the need to keep calling for democracy on the mainland and for us in Hong Kong to demand genuine universal suffrage.
The core values in this city, of upholding the rule of law (including fighting corruption) and freedom of speech, should extend to the whole of our homeland, on both sides of the border.
I hope Hongkongers, when thinking about Liu’s legacy, will cherish what we have in this special administrative region. However, I do have concerns about whether we will be able to maintain the “high degree of autonomy” that is guaranteed under the Basic Law or if we will see further interference from Beijing.
The leadership in Beijing is unmoved when nations in the West criticise its human rights record. It is unfair that citizens on the mainland continue to be treated in this way.
Beijing fears chaos if it allows freedom of expression, but it is respected in the US, for example, and that country has a stable society.
China can become a remarkable nation and advance even more than it has done, but it must respect human rights.
Iris So, Kwun Tong