China: Nobel Laureate's Widow Released

11 July, 2018, 12:01 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo has left China

Her late husband, Liu Xiaobo, died of cancer in July 2017 after spending more than eight years in prison for his advocacy of human rights in China.

Although China's media has remained silent about the news, Liu Xia's brother Liu Hui - who remains in Beijing - confirmed this information on his WeChat, according to Ming Pao. "Until [her brother] is able to leave China to be reunited with his sister, Liu Xia will remain a hostage of the Chinese government". Wu said he spoke to Liu Xia's older brother, Liu Tong.

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

She was reunited with Liu Xiaobo in late June a year ago at a Shenyang hospital after the pro-democracy campaigner was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and released from jail on medical parole.

Chinese authorities had consistently maintained Liu was free but imposed severe restrictions on her movement and kept her under constant surveillance.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is now visiting Germany.

To avoid China's fierce online censorship, a number of Chinese netizens subtly paid their respects to Merkel as well as to Germany by writing a short thank you note on their Weibo accounts, without mentioning Liu Xia's name.

Human rights groups are cautiously celebrating Liu Xia's departure from China on Tuesday, as they urge the global community to keep in mind the abuses suffered by her and her late husband, Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo. Liu Hui was prosecuted in 2013 on questionable fraud charges, though later released on bail. "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".

Liu Xia, who had been under house arrest since her husband won the prize in 2010, took a plane to Berlin, family friends told the BBC.

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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.

This February during the Lunar New Year holiday, Liu Xia and her brother Liu Hui were visited by a top official from the Ministry of Public Security, trusted by President Xi Jinping, who suggested she could be freed after the annual legislative session the following month, sources told the South China Morning Post earlier.

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

"I'm so excited, I'm so excited, I don't know what to say", the Chinese poet and painter told AFP over the telephone that October. "It would be easier to die than to live". "Nothing would be simpler for me than dying in defiance".

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.

Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo, smiles as she arrives at the Helsinki International Airport in Vantaa, Finland, on July 10, 2018.

The pale, bespectacled poet, who had long sported a shaved haircut, appeared gaunt and somber in most of the images. In a letter published past year, Liu wrote she was "going mad" in her isolation, according to the AFP news agency. He died while serving a prison sentence for "inciting subversion".

It also comes just days before the first anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death, an occasion that was expected to draw fresh attention to her detention.

"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. United Nations human rights experts had called on China to allow her to seek treatment for her worsening health.

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