Liu Xiaobo was an outspoken critic of the Chinese government. A former professor of literature at Beijing Normal University, he wrote about Chinese society and culture with a focus on democracy and human rights. He was jailed for 21 months after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre for his role in supporting students who had taken part in the peaceful protests. He was imprisoned again in a Re-education through Labor camp from 1996 to 1999 for criticizing China's policies toward Taiwan and Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Liu was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison on “inciting subversion” charges for his involvement with Charter ’08, a manifesto calling for political reforms in China. Liu served nearly eight years in a Liaoning prison until being transferred to a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province, in June 2017. He died on July 13 from complications of liver cancer.
In 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Human Rights Watch honored him with the 2010 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism for his fearless commitment to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in China.