His death brought me back to 2009, when he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. I remember those posters on campus protesting his sentence, and the vigils outside the Legislative Council. At the time, I did not expect him to die in prison, and in such a sudden manner.
What can we learn from him then? Certainly it is not just that the struggle for freedom and justice is arduous and hazardous; that one may have to pay for it with one’s life; that the road to freedom is long - very very long.
We learn that one man may lose his life, yet be able to unite many in the fight against evil. Liu Xiao Bo has made friends of a very large number of very different people, with very different views. We are impressed by his decades-long fight for a more open and democratic China, by his demanding that the communist regime comply with Article 35 of the Chinese constitution, which says citizens should enjoy “freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”; by his reasonableness; by his returning from the USA to support the students in the June 4 Movement; by his insistence on using peaceful means to fight for freedom; by boldly promoting Charter 08; by insisting that he has no enemies; by renouncing hatred because hatred can rot away a person’s intelligence and conscience; by showing us how one man can fight against a repressive regime.
Liu Xiao Bo, we salute you. We shall remember you and the lessons you have taught us. To honour you, we shall never give up.