I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies. Although there is no way I can accept your monitoring, arrests, indictments, and verdicts, I respect your professions and your integrity, including those of the two prosecutors, Zhang Rongge and Pan Xueqing, who are now bringing charges against me on behalf of the prosecution. During interrogation on December 3, I could sense your respect and your good faith.
Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation’s progress towards freedom and democracy. That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation’s development and social change, to counter the regime’s hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love.
It is precisely because of such convictions and personal experience that I firmly believe that China’s political progress will not stop, and I, filled with optimism, look forward to the advent of a future free China. For there is no force that can put an end to the human quest for freedom, and China will in the end become a nation ruled by law, where human rights reign supreme. I also hope that this sort of progress can be reflected in this trial as I await the impartial ruling of the collegial bench – a ruling that will withstand the test of history.
If I may be permitted to say so, the most fortunate experience of these past twenty years has been the selfless love I have received from my wife, Liu Xia. She could not be present as an observer in court today, but I still want to say to you, my dear, that I firmly believe your love for me will remain the same as it has always been. Throughout all these years that I have lived without freedom, our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savour its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body, allowing me to always keep peace, openness, and brightness in my heart, and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning.
There is nothing criminal in anything I have done. if charges are brought against me because of this, I have no complaints.
Written by imprisoned Chinese human rights dissident Liu Xiaobo, prior to being sentenced to jail (for the fourth time) for “subversion of the state.” He wasn’t able to read it at his trial, as intended, but it would be read a year later on his behalf at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony that rightly honored him. He is currently serving out his latest prison sentence, slated to end in 2020.
Frankly, I don’t know how a man that has endured such suffering could remain so committed to love and tolerance, and could maintain such quiet dignity despite in the face of so many attempts to destroy it. Since my political coming-of-age back in high school, I’ve marveled at the remarkable courage, integrity, and virtue that characterizes so many of my fellow humans, even against such cynical and traumatic odds. I’ve read so many stories of once average people facing up some of the most oppressive and cruel regimes in human history – the best of human nature versus the worst; the most virtuous versus the most despicable – and I always ask myself one thing: what’s it like?
What’s it like to risk your dignity, freedom, and life? What’s it like to stand up against such insurmountable odds, often alone? Most importantly, what would I do in their position?
Would I be brave enough to face down the most dangerous and vile elements of the human race?
Would I practice what I preach – in terms of liberty, human rights, political freedom – if these things were illegal and doing so could lead to horrible consequences?
Would I maintain my optimism and faith in humanity?
Do I have it in me to stand by my morals and beliefs?
Thanks to people like Liu Xiaobo, I’ll probably never know – I’ll never have to face such dilemmas.