A sit-in organised by the Alliance calling for ailing Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo to be released is continuing into its second day.
Around 10 people were sat with banners and placards outside the China Liaison Office – Beijing’s official organ in Hong Kong – on Tuesday morning. A similar number of police officers stood nearby.
Liu’s family and supporters, along with some foreign governments, have called for Liu’s release since he was revealed to have been transferred from prison to a hospital with terminal liver cancer in late June. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he co-wrote Charter ’08, a manifesto calling for democratic reform in China.
Beijing considers Liu a convicted criminal and accuses foreign governments who voice support for him of meddling in China’s internal affairs.
Two of the protesters sat in front of the office in the Western district through the night, while others arrived or returned in the morning.
They vow to continue the “relay protest,” taking turns to sit at the Liaison Office until Liu is allowed to leave China for treatment.
The vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, Richard Tsoi Yiu-Cheong, told HKFP that it was important for Liu’s supporters to speak out at this moment. He cited a statement from two foreign doctors that it was safe for Liu to travel abroad for treatment, but that a medical evacuation would have to happen “as quickly as possible.”
“I think it’s a critical juncture now – we must take action to call on the Chinese government to make a decision to free Liu Xiaobo, and act according to his family’s wishes to let him leave the country for treatment,” he said.
“We also call on Liu’s supporters in other countries to take similar action outside their local Chinese embassies.”
About 40 people attended the relay sit-in as it began at 6pm on Monday, according to Ming Pao. Close to 100 people attended between the time the protest started and Tuesday morning, Tsoi told HKFP.
Tsoi said he does not know whether the Chinese government was likely to let Liu go abroad, but “we can’t become discouraged or lose hope – even if there is only a sliver of an opportunity, we must still speak out and fight.”
“I believe that the majority of Hong Kong people are very concerned, and very much hope to see Liu Xiaobo obtain freedom.”
Nicole Wong, an 18-year-old student, attended the sit-in with her mother, Susan. She told HKFP she would stay as long as she can at the protest on Tuesday, and hopes China will forget political considerations, regard him as a human being and respect his wish to go abroad.
“I feel like – as a man who tries to pursue justice for so long yet has been persecuted for all his attempts- I feel like I need to show the world somehow that I am an ally to him and I am standing on his side.”
Susan said Liu was a peaceful and patriotic intellectual, and compared him to Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela.
See also: How Chinese intellectual Liu Xiaobo spoke up for change, only to be jailed by Beijing
“I want to tell Chinese people that they need to stand up and speak out… Chinese people don’t dare to speak out about injustices – it’s time to change,” she said, her voice breaking, “because he’s in his last days… his wishes should be respected.”
She said she respected Liu because he put himself in danger by choosing to return to China from Columbia University, where he was working, during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Liu helped broker a peaceful exit of the last student protesters left in the square as the authorities moved in. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of demonstrators were killed.
See also: Hong Kong democracy activists struggle to be heard under Pres. Xi Jinping security lockdown
She urged China to stop wasting time and release Liu immediately: “No matter how strong of a country you are, if you don’t listen to the people, no one will respect you or admire you.”