Hong Kong pan-democrats urge Beijing to release ailing dissident Liu Xiaobo in Legco petition
Twenty-four lawmakers stand to show respect for democracy advocate as document is read out
Twenty-four pan-democratic lawmakers presented a petition in the Legislative Council yesterday urging Beijing to allow critically ill dissident Liu Xiaobo to receive treatment overseas.
But Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen banned the lawmakers from tabling an adjournment debate on Liu’s case, sparking accusations of abuse of power from democrats.
Submitting the petition, the Democratic Party’s Ted Hui Chi-fung and other democrats voiced their concerns over the Nobel laureate’s situation and urged Beijing to answer the calls from Hong Kong and overseas to release Liu.
“As Mr Liu Xiaobo’s health condition has reached the most critical moment, we urge the central government to act with humanity and arrange as soon as possible for Mr Liu to take treatment overseas with the company of his wife Liu Xia and relatives,” the petition stated.
In 2009, Liu was jailed for 11 years after he led the drafting of Charter 08, a document that called for democracy and freedoms in China. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
Under the Legco rules of procedure, members can present a petition but no speech, debate or voting shall be made.
The 24 pan-democrats stood up to show respect and support for the democracy fighter after Hui read out the petition.
“Why can China, as a great country, not stand the democracy calls raised by Liu? Liu cannot be freed even with his life coming to an end,” Hui said. “We want to stage our request in a formal and solemn way, so as to express the views of the Hong Kong people.”
The pan-democrats also issued an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, voicing the same demand.
Meanwhile, the June 4 vigil organiser has held a silent sit-in outside the Beijing’s liaison office since Monday, calling for people to keep showing support for Liu until he was released.
Two weeks ago, Liu was transferred to a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province, for treatment. While mainland authorities said his condition was worsening, overseas experts allowed to visit him last week said he was still fit for travel.
On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said it was not her role to exert pressure on the central government over the matter. She said she was confident that Beijing would handle it “in a legal and compassionate way”.