It is with deep regret that the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation marks the death of Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.
Throughout his life, Liu Xiaobo was many things: a professor, a critic of literature, an author, an activist, a husband, a poet, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a prisoner, and a tireless advocate for the freedom of the Chinese people.
Liu Xiaobo was born in the city of Changchun in 1955. Like so many young Chinese of his generation, Liu was “sent down to the countryside” by Chinese dictator Mao Zedong in the wake of the so-called Cultural Revolution. This “revolution” unleashed such an orgy of violence throughout China that, in order to stop it, Mao resorted to exiling China’s young urban population to rural areas for agricultural labor. Liu later described this internal exile as the seedbed for his literary and political development: his isolation allowed him to experience childhood far from the suffocating grip of Maoist indoctrination.
In 1976, Mao died, and an exhausted China tried to move beyond the Maoist nightmare. When Chinese universities were re-opened, Liu enrolled. He quickly immersed himself in poetry and writing and earned a master’s degree in literature. By 1984, he had become a teacher and a well-known writer. His work was poignant and insightful—and clashed with the Communist Party’s drive for intellectual conformity under Deng Xiaoping.