A former top aide to late ousted Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang has hit out at the ruling Chinese Communist Party for its granting of medical parole to jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo only when his liver cancer was at a late, inoperable stage, saying the timing was "deliberate."
Bao Tong, who served a seven-year jail term in the wake of the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square student movement, told reporters that the government is responsible for neglecting Liu, who was serving time for "subversion" after calling for constitutional government, when his cancer was diagnosed in May.
"How could they not know about it in the initial stages, in the later stages, until it reached the terminal stage?" Bao said. "The government is responsible for this."
Bao, who has lived under continual surveillance and periods of house arrest since his release from prison, said the authorities should be held to account for not diagnosing Liu sooner.
"The progress of liver cancer from the initial stages to coma is not a short process," he said. "It takes a number of years, and the authorities would have kept this from the prisoner for all that time. I think this was done deliberately."
"Some people have been talking about deliberate homicide, and I think that is a very frank way of putting it."
"This is extremely irresponsible of them, and the prison should be held responsible at the highest levels," he said. "This has revealed to us the reality of the Chinese prison system."
"I talked about this with a few friends after we heard the news, and we thought that we should call on the President to implement an amnesty, because [Liu] was sentenced back in 2009 under our previous leadership," Bao said. "I think the current leadership should give him a break."
No options left
Liu's wife Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest and in prolonged isolation at the couple's Beijing home since his award was announced in October 2010, has said in a brief statement that chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery have all been ruled out as treatment options, as her husband's cancer has already spread.
Chinese and foreign human rights lawyers and activists have been demanding the unconditional release of the democracy campaigner after news emerged that he had been transferred with late-stage liver cancer to a hospital in the northeastern province of Liaoning.
Bao agreed that Liu should be allowed to go overseas if that is his wish.
"If the patient wishes to seek medical treatment overseas, I don't think that any political force, including any government, should be allowed to stand in the way of that demand," he said.
"Political parties and governments should organize to protect the rights of their citizens, not to obstruct them. Otherwise they are not properly functioning parties or governments."
Bao brushed aside comments from Beijing's foreign ministry warning the international community not to interfere in China's "internal affairs."
"All power in the People's Republic of China derives from the people," Bao retorted. "How is a foreign ministry spokesman going to implement his own country's constitution if he doesn't even know the provisions that are in it regarding the rights of its citizens?"
State media on Wednesday confirmed that Liu hasn't been released.
"It must be pointed out that Liu was granted medical parole, but he was not set free," the Global Times, which has close ties to Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, said.
"His activities beyond medical treatment are still subject to the supervision of prison authorities," it said. "His actions will still be restricted by the law."
The paper said in a commentary that Liu had tried to "overthrow China's political system."
"Liu has long separated himself from Chinese society ... Although Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he is likely to face tragedy in the end," it said.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.