JULY 2011 | After repeatedly being threatened with imprisonment if he chose to continue publishing his “illegal work” in foreign countries, Liao Yiwu (廖亦武) has fled to asylum in Germany. In the weeks and months following the outbreak of popular revolt in the Arab world, the Chinese government’s repression of critical voices intensified, and Liao had been warned that he would be arrested if he chose to publish the German edition of his forthcoming memoir, Testimonials: The Witness of the 4th of June.
Philip Gourevitch has written a typically solid piece for the New Yorker detailing Liao’s “escape” from China and the reason his work is important enough to be threatening to China’s leadership. The piece includes the following quote from Liao about his status as a political “refugee”:
“I’m excited about political developments in China, and looking forward to a Jasmine Revolution. I am quite sure that Hu Jintao may be a refugee some day, but not Liao Yiwu.”
May this be so. When I had the opportunity to meet and interview Liao several times in 2010, I was deeply inspired by his willingness to take enormous risks in service of truth-telling, free thought, and art. Interested readers can check out the lengthy profile I did of Liao following these interviews, “Dangerous Words,” which appeared originally on Counterpunch, then in expanded form here on LOUDCANARY.