Liu Xiaobo, one of the most important Chinese dissidents of his generation, became the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital while held by the Nazis in 1938.

The 61-year-old democracy campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner has been jailed for most of the past decade. He was diagnosed with liver cancer on May 23 and was released for medical treatment days later. Liu died Thursday while still in custody following a battle with cancer, authorities said, after officials ignored international pleas to let him spend his final days free and abroad.

Despite the tragedy that Liu’s freedom has come from his death, it is clear today that the Chinese government has lost. Liu’s ideas and his dreams will persist, spread, and will, one day, come to fruition. And his courage and his sacrifice for his country will inspire millions of Chinese activists and dissidents to persevere until China has become the multi-party democracy that Liu knew to his core was within its people’s grasp.

- Jared Genser, international counsel to Liu Xiaobo

We will strive to carry forward his legacy to fight for democracy in HK and China.

- Joshua Wong, Hong Kong activist and democracy campaigner

His non-violent resistance made him a hero in the battle for democracy and human rights. RIP.

- Heiko Maas, German justice minister

Liu Xiaobo was a man of fierce intellect, principle, wit and above all humanity.

For decades, he fought tirelessly to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms in China. He did so in the face of the most relentless and often brutal opposition from the Chinese government. Time and again they tried to silence him, and time and again they failed. Despite enduring years of persecution, suppression and imprisonment, Liu Xiaobo continued to fight for his convictions.

Although he has passed, everything he stood for still endures. The greatest tribute we can now pay him is to continue the struggle for human rights in China and recognize the powerful legacy he leaves behind. Thanks to Liu Xiaobo, millions of people in China and across the world have been inspired to stand up for freedom and justice in the face of oppression.

- Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International

The Chinese government’s arrogance, cruelty, and callousness are shocking – but Liu’s struggle for a rights-respecting, democratic China will live on.

No government should let the death of Liu Xiaobo pass without challenging Beijing’s mistreatment of this critical voice for human rights, calling for Liu Xia’s freedom, and pressing for the release of all those wrongfully detained across China.

Governments should send a clear message to Beijing that the principles to which Liu Xiaobo devoted his life will thrive after his tragic death.

- Sophie Richardson, China director, Human Rights Watch,

Updates to follow.

Additional reporting: AFP