Exiled Tiananmen Square student protest leader Wu’er Kaixi said on Friday the world had “failed to save” Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who he described as his mentor.
Wu’er is one of the best-known figures from the pro-democracy movement which took over the square in Beijing in 1989, prompting a bloody crackdown in which at least several hundreds are believed to have died.
He fled China and now lives in Taiwan, but said he had managed to stay in touch with Liu via Skype before his imprisonment.
Wu’er said Liu was a key adviser to him during the student movement before Chinese authorities sent in tanks to crush the peaceful protests.
“The world has failed to save one of the most conscientious and genuine Chinese,” said Wu’er, speaking of Liu who was a professor of Chinese literature at the university where he was studying at the time.
“You can say we tolerated and indulged the Chinese government to kill him,” he told AFP in Taipei.
Liu — who was detained in 2008 after calling for democratic reforms and sentenced to 11 years in prison — died in custody aged 61 on Thursday in a heavily guarded hospital, where he was transferred from prison to treat late-stage liver cancer.
Wu’er called on world leaders to put pressure on the Chinese government to release Liu’s wife Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010.
Liu had been one of the main reasons why the movement had remained peaceful and non-violent, he added.
“I’m his little prodigy. He was my mentor,” he said.
Wu’er said the last time he saw Liu was in 1992 because he was barred from returning to the mainland while Liu could not leave.
“His relations with me was really close. We were like family,” he added.
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