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Liu Xiaobo, one of the world’s most courageous men, Chinese dissident, died of liver cancer in a Chinese hospital, died of neglect and failed diagnosis, died because he could not stay quiet as the thieves stole freedom .  There is much we can read to remember him and try, in whatever way we can, to learn.

Here is Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, several in the NY Times.  From China File. 

This note written in 2002 seems most appropriate for today.

Refusing to Lie can Undermine a Tyranny

…We do not demand of ourselves any extraordinary courage, nobility, conscience, or wisdom; we need not ask ourselves to risk prison or go on hunger strikes or carry out self-immolations.  All we need to do is to eliminate lies from our public speech and to give up lies as a tactic in dealing with the threats and the enticements of the regime.

Moral prohibitions against lying are fundamental in the ancient texts of all the world’s culture.  For the people in this world who still live under dictatorships, resistance to lies continues to be the first step in the pursuit of freedom over fear and coercion, which is something every human being yearns for.  Dictatorships need lies and violence in order to maintain the coercion and fear upon which they depend.  They need both — violence alone is not enough; it needs the veneer that lies provide.  No single person, of whatever status can fight back against regime violence alone, but the refusal to participate in lying is something that every person can accomplish.  To refuse to lie in day-to-day public life is the most powerful tool for breaking down a tyranny built on mendacity.”

From  No Enemies No Hatred, Liu Xiaobo 2012

And, Hatred:

“Hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy. Liu Xiaobo

A poem, to his wife, Liu Xia


To Xia

My dear,
I’ll never give up the struggle for freedom from the oppressors’
jail, but I’ll be your willing prisoner for life.

I’m your lifelong prisoner, my love
I want to live in your dark insides
surviving on the dregs in your blood

inspired by the flow of your estrogen

I hear your constant heartbeat
drop by drop, like melted snow from a mountain stream
if I were a stubborn, million-year rock
you’d bore right through me
drop by drop

day and night

Inside you
I grope in the dark
and use the wine you’ve drunk
to write poems looking for you
I plead like a deaf man begging for sound
Let the dance of love intoxicate your body

I always feel
your lungs rise and fall when you smoke
in an amazing rhythm
you exhale my toxins
I inhale fresh air to nourish my soul

I’m your lifelong prisoner, my love
like a baby loath to be born
clinging to your warm uterus
you provide all my oxygen
all my serenity

A baby prisoner
in the depths of your being
unafraid of alcohol and nicotine
the poisons of your loneliness
I need your poisons
need them too much

Maybe as your prisoner
I’ll never see the light of day
but I believe
darkness is my destiny
inside you
all is well

The glitter of the outside world
scares me
exhausts me
I focus on
your darkness –
simple and impenetrable

From Harvard University Press from No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems by Xiaobo Liu.  © 2012