Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo died today of liver cancer . Chinese authorities denied him permission to seek treatment for his advanced cancer in Germany and the United States. Instead, he was confined to a hospital room in the city of Shenyang and kept incommunicado and under constant guard. He is the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in custody since 1938, when the German anti-Nazi and pacifist writer and journalist Karl von Ossietsky died of tuberculosis while in police custody in Berlin. In 2010 I published this post (on an earlier blog) about him. Liu Xiaobo is serving his fourth prison sentence for the non-violent expression of his conscientiously held beliefs in free expression, democracy and government accountability. He is the author of Charter O8, which calls on the Chinese government to move towards democratic freedoms and to end the repression of citizens with dissenting viewpoints. On December 10th, 2010 in Oslo, Norway, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia. Below is the preamble to Charter O8. This year is the 100th year of China's Constitution, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 30th anniversary of the birth of the Democracy Wall, and the 10th year since China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. After experiencing a prolonged period of human rights disasters and a tortuous struggle and resistance, the awakening Chinese citizens are increasingly and more clearly recognizing that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal common values shared by all humankind, and that democracy, a republic, and constitutionalism constitute the basic structural framework of modern governance. A "modernization" bereft of these universal values and this basic political framework is a disastrous process that deprives humans of their rights, corrodes human nature, and destroys human dignity. Where will China head in the 21st century? Continue a "modernization" under this kind of authoritarian rule? Or recognize universal values, assimilate into the mainstream civilization, and build a democratic political system? This is a major decision that cannot be avoided.