Saturday, 22 September, 2018


Nobel widow Liu Xia leaves China after 8 years' house arrest

Nobel widow Liu Xia leaves China after 8 years' house arrest Nobel widow Liu Xia leaves China after 8 years' house arrest
Bennie Garza | 11 July, 2018, 12:47

Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners Tuesday welcomed news that the widow of Chinese Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo had left China for Germany after years under effective house arrest.

Over the past year, the European Union and the United States have repeatedly urged President Xi Jinping to allow the widow to leave the country, asserting she had never been charged with a crime.

Her friends say her inability to leave her home has taken a toll on her mental health, especially following her husband's death.

Photographers caught up with her in Helsinki, where she was in transit, and she grinned widely for the cameras spreading her arms - a stark contrast from the few images of her that have surfaced over the past few years in China. She has never been far from our thoughts, including this spring when dozens of artists and writers joined in literary solidarity with Liu Xia. "But we still fear for Liu Hui, who is being kept in the country as a guarantee so that Liu Xia does not speak out overseas".

He also has introduced a bill to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington "Liu Xiaobo Plaza".

Her younger brother, Liu Hui, is in China. We commend the leadership of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government for their role in demanding her freedom.

"If I can't leave, I'll die in my home", Liu Xia told her close friend Liao Yiwu, a writer who documented their phone conversation in an essay published in May.

In 2009, China sentenced Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison on a charge of inciting subversion after he helped write Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political and economic liberalization.

Liu Xia was put under house arrest without trial after her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

Human rights groups are cautiously celebrating Liu Xia's departure from China on Tuesday, as they urge the worldwide community to keep in mind the abuses suffered by her and her late husband, Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo. The last time China let a high-profile political prisoner leave was in 2012, when blind activist Chen Guangcheng was allowed to fly to NY after escaping from house arrest and hiding for six days in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Liu Hui is in China.

China had criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release as interference in its domestic affairs and insisted that Liu Xia was free.

Merkel has spoken out frequently on Chinese human rights abuses and is believed to have pushed for Liu's release during her May visit to Beijing, where she met the wives of detained human rights lawyers.

At a private funeral before his cremation, a grieving Liu Xia and relatives stood in front of her husband's body, and she "fixed her eyes on him a long time, mumbling to say farewell", Shenyang city official Zhang Qingyang told reporters.

"I hope she can improve her health condition and adjust her mood ... after leaving here, and then gradually start her new life."
"If I can't leave, I'll die in my home", she told her friend. "Dying is easier than living - there is nothing simpler for me than to protest with death".

Diplomats have said that authorities had continued to monitor Liu Xia after the death of her husband and she had only been able to meet and speak to friends and family in pre-arranged phone calls and visits.

Mr Liu died of liver cancer last July while under government custody, prompting fresh global calls for his wife's release.

Liu is a poet and artist. The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died from tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while serving a sentence for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

Liu Xia's departure was "wonderful news" but harassment of her family remained a risk to her freedom to criticise China, Amnesty International's China researcher Patrick Poon said.

"I think the government wanted to try and save face, and make it seem as though it is a country ruled according to law when everything about her case has shown demonstrably that it is not", Eve said.

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