Liu Xiaobo wins Nobel Peace Prize: a profile
Liu Xiaobo's path to the Nobel Peace Prize began during the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, when he joined student demonstrators on hunger strike two days before the protests were crushed by the Chinese military on the night of June 4.
David Eimer in Beijing
08 Oct 2010
Until then, Mr Liu had concentrated on his academic career as a Chinese literature lecturer at Beijing Normal University. But witnessing the brutal crackdown in Tiananmen helped to turn him into China's most outspoken and best-known activist.
Originally from Changchun in north-east China, Mr Liu's part in the Tiananmen protests earned him his first prison sentence and resulted in him losing his teaching post. That did not deter him from speaking out. In 1996, he was sent to a re-education labour camp for three years on charges of "disturbing public order" after criticising the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
While serving his sentence, he married his wife Liu Xia.
On his release Mr Liu continued writing articles critical of the CCP's grip on power. But it was his key role in the Charter 08 movement that made him the CCP's public enemy number one. The Charter 08 manifesto called for democratic political reforms and the end of one-party rule, guaranteed human rights, freedom of expression and an independent judiciary. It was issued on December 10th 2008, the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Two days before the manifesto was released, police came to Mr Liu's Beijing apartment and took him away. For the next six months he was held in solitary confinement in an unknown location without access to his wife or a lawyer.
In June 2009, he was formally charged with "inciting subversion of state power", a vague, catch-all charge commonly used against anyone who criticises the CCP. On Christmas Day last year, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Since then, the 54-year-old has been held at Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province north of Beijing. He is allowed a monthly visit from his wife, who says that he is in reasonable health and not cowed by his situation. A media blackout on his case in China means few of his compatriots are aware of his decades of peaceful campaigning for democracy and human rights. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize will not change that, but it will focus the spotlight once more on China's lamentable record on human rights and the determination of its leaders to crush anyone who opposes them.