'Free Liu Xiaobo' will be one of the themes at this year's July 1 protest march. Photo: Asia Times
'Free Liu Xiaobo' will be one of the themes at this year's July 1 protest march. Photo: Asia Times

Organizers of the annual July 1 protest in Hong Kong plan to make “Free Liu Xiaobo” a key theme at this year’s rally.

The Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner, 61, was recently released from prison on the mainland but remains under house arrest in hospital, suffering from late-stage liver cancer.

Civil Human Rights Front said it will also display a “Free Liu Xiaobo” banner at the protest area outside the Wan Chai hotel where Chinese President Xi Jinping will stay during his three-day visit to Hong Kong to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the handover.

Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, also plans to submit a letter to Xi during a dinner on Friday calling for the Chinese democracy advocate’s freedom.

On Tuesday, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, together with the Democratic Party, Civic Party and Labour Party, rallied to the central government’s Liaison Office in Sai Wan to call for the immediate release of Liu.

Cheung Man-kwong, a member of the Alliance, said China should stop persecuting human rights activists. Cheung said he hopes Xi will respond to the case.

Eight pro-democracy legislators encouraged the public to join the annual July 1 march this weekend to demand the release of Liu and support democratic movements in Hong Kong and China.

However, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and student unions from 13 Hong Kong universities said they would not participate in the July 1 march as they consider it meaningless to demand democracy from China, given its lack of support for democracy in Hong Kong over the past two decades.

In 2009, Liu was sentenced in Beijing to 11 years in prison for his part in drafting Charter 08, which advocated basic human rights and democratic reform in China. He was imprisoned in Jinzhou, in Liaoning province, until his recent transfer to a hospital in Shenyang after being diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer. He and his wife, Liu Xia, remain under house arrest.

US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday called for the release of Liu and his wife. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the case was an internal matter for China.

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