Two protests were staged outside Beijing’s office in Hong Kong on Tuesday in support of Chinese activist and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Around 20 people joined a march led by political parties Demosisto and the League of Social Democrats to demand Liu’s unconditional release.
Two hours later, around 30 people from the Democratic Party, the Civic Party and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China also held a march from Western Police Station to the China Liaison Office.
Liu was sentenced to 11 years in 2008 after writing a manifesto – called Charter ’08 – calling for democratic reform in China. He was released on medical parole on Monday after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
Chinese authorities said Liu is being treated by “eight renowned Chinese oncologists” in a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang.
On Tuesday, protesters held placards saying “The one-party state kills people without weapons” and “Political oppression is unacceptable.”
Lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung called the Chinese government “shameless” for putting Liu under surveillance even as he is receiving medical treatment.
“Liu should be freed. He should enjoy the same rights as everyone, including the freedom to get medical treatment and see his family,” Leung said.
He expressed sadness over the news and said he hoped the diagnosis was wrong, as he had hoped to see Liu when he has served his time.
Some protesters wore masks of Liu’s face and carried signs that said: “We are all Liu Xiaobo.”
Demosisto activist Joshua Wong said Liu was only transferred from one prison to another. He asked all lawmakers and activists to demand Chinese President Xi Jinping release Liu during the leader’s visit to Hong Kong this week.
“It is time for Hong Kong people to ask for democratisation [of] Hong Kong and mainland China,” he added.
The group also urged Beijing to free Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010.
The China Liaison Office did not send a representative to take the petition letter from the group.
In response, protesters posted pictures of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia on the office’s wall, with messages calling for their release and criticising Beijing for its “political and unjust imprisonment” of Liu.
Police officers blocked off part of the sidewalk with tape and took personal information of protesters as they turned up to the rally.
The international community has united in a chorus of condemnation in response to the news. NGO Human Rights Watch called for Liu’s immediate release, while Amnesty International Hong Kong said the diagnosis “adds injury to insult” to Liu.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee invited Liu to visit Oslo to receive his Nobel Peace Prize. It said it “strongly regrets that it took serious illness before Chinese authorities were willing to release him from jail.”