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Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia
Liu Xia and her husband Liu Xiaobo © Private

Liu Xia is a poet, artist and human rights defender in China. She is under house arrest in Beijing.

Imprisoned in her own house

Liu Xia has been trapped inside her home by the Chinese authorities since October 2010, when her husband, the writer and activist Dr Liu Xiaobo, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Security guards surround Liu Xia's home. She is not allowed to leave or accept visitors.

Liu Xia has been held under illegal house arrest in Beijing since October 2010. Security guards stand outside her home and she is prevented from communicating freely with the outside world - the police have banned her from making or receiving phone calls or accessing the internet.

Punished for her Nobel Prize-winning husband's activism

Liu Xia’s husband is political activist Dr Liu Xiaobo. He was taken away by police on 8 December 2008, two days before he intended to launch a pro-democracy manifesto with a group of other activists.

In December 2009, after his formal arrest on suspicion of 'inciting subversion' he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and a further two years deprivation of political rights.

In October 2010, Liu Xiaobo became the first Chinese citizen to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights.

Health concerns

Liu Xia had a heart attack in January this year. She was admitted to hospital for emergency treatment but was returned home again against the advice of her doctor.

In early February she was taken to hospital again under police escort and diagnosed with a heart condition. Her doctors said Liu Xia needed more treatment, so her family completed all the necessary forms and paid the hospital fees. However the hospital refused to admit her and she was returned home.

For some time Liu Xia was refused treatment that she desperately needed - for her heart condition and severe depression. In late March she was eventually allowed to be seen again by doctors.

Liu Xia's most recent medical examinations suggest that she is mainly suffering from psychological stress, anxiety and depression - severe mental health problems that multiple doctors warned will worsen unless her current living conditions change.

Visitors banned

On 28 December 2012, Liu Xiaobo’s birthday, Chinese activists - including activist Hu Jia and Beijing intellectual Xu Youyu - managed to push past security guards and pay a brief visit to Liu Xia.

They made this video of the meeting:


Stopped from contacting her husband

Liu Xia is able to see her husband on visits arranged by the government but she is repeatedly denied contact with him. She is not even allowed to read the letters he writes her.

Following the visit by Hu Jia and Xu Youyu, police have increased surveillance around Liu Xia’s house. It is now virtually impossible for her to make contact with outsiders.