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August 22, 2017

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Read this: The moving 'I have no enemies' speech Liu Xiaobo never got a chance to give

Democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo died Thursday of multiple organ failure in the Chinese hospital where he was being held. He had been transferred there after being diagnosed with liver cancer while serving an 11-year sentence for subversion.

In 2010, at which time Liu was already serving the term, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Although he never had the chance to attend the Nobel ceremony, he prepared a moving speech -- one that was translated by the group Human Rights in China. It was read at the ceremony by Norwegian actress and director Liv Ullmann, while an empty chair represented the detained dissident.

The following is that speech:

I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement

In the course of my life, for more than half a century, June 1989 was the major turning point. Up to that point, I was a member of the first class to enter university when college entrance examinations were reinstated following the Cultural Revolution (Class of ''77). From BA to MA and on to PhD, my academic career was all smooth sailing. Upon receiving my degrees, I stayed on to teach at Beijing NormalUniversity. As a teacher, I was well received by the students. At the same time, I was a public intellectual, writing articles and books that created quite a stir during the 1980s, frequently receiving invitations to give talks around the country, and going abroad as a visiting scholar upon invitation from Europe and America. What I demanded of myself was this: whether as a person or as a writer, I would lead a life of honesty, responsibility, and dignity. After that, because I had returned from the U.S. to take part in the 1989 Movement, I was thrown into prison for "the crime of counter‑revolutionary propaganda and incitement." I also lost my beloved lectern and could no longer publish essays or give talks in China. Merely for publishing different political views and taking part in a peaceful democracy movement, a teacher lost his lectern, a writer lost his right to publish, and a public intellectual lost the opportunity to give talks publicly. This is a tragedy, both for me personally and for a China that has already seen thirty years of Reform and Opening Up.

When I think about it, my most dramatic experiences after June Fourth have been, surprisingly, associated with courts: My two opportunities to address the public have both been provided by trial sessions at the Beijing Municipal Intermediate People's Court, once in January 1991, and again today. Although the crimes I have been charged with on the two occasions are different in name, their real substance is basically the same - both are speech crimes.

Twenty years have passed, but the ghosts of June Fourth have not yet been laid to rest. Upon release from Qincheng Prison in 1991, I, who had been led onto the path of political dissent by the psychological chains of June Fourth, lost the right to speak publicly in my own country and could only speak through the foreign media. Because of this, I was subjected to year‑round monitoring, kept under residential surveillance (May 1995 to January 1996) and sent to Reeducation‑Through‑Labor (October 1996 to October 1999). And now I have been once again shoved into the dock by the enemy mentality of the regime.

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