China: Almost 70,000 demand release of Liu Xiaobo's widow

Liu Xia (right), pictured with her husband Liu Xiaobo.

Almost 70,000 people from around the world have urged the Chinese president to lift all restrictions against poet and artist Liu Xia, one month after the death of her husband, the Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Liu Xia has not been heard of since her husband’s hastily-arranged funeral ceremony and sea burial on 15 July. Liu Xiaobo, a prisoner of conscience, died of liver cancer in custody two days earlier.

In an open letter to President Xi Jinping, nearly 70,000 people are calling on the Chinese authorities to lift all arbitrary restrictions on Liu Xia and ensure she can travel freely.

Lisa Tassi, Amesty International’s East Asia Director of Campaigns, said:

“Liu Xia is being cruelly punished for never giving up on her wrongfully imprisoned late husband.

“Liu Xia’s immeasurable loss is being callously compounded by the Chinese authorities’ vindictive and illegal attempt to silence her. Our message to President Xi is clear: end the harassment and free Liu Xia now.”

Liu Xia has been under illegal house arrest since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. After her husband’s funeral, Liu Xia was taken to the south-west province of Yunnan and then sent back to Beijing, where she lives. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

She has suffered from psychological stress, anxiety and depression as a result of her treatment at the hands of the government.

Since Liu Xiaobo’s death, the authorities have detained or harassed activists who held memorials for him. Six activists in the coastal province of Guangdong have been detained on suspicion of “assembling a crowd to disturb social order” after they held a seaside memorial.

Lisa Tassi said:

“All those detained for legitimately exercising their freedom of expression must be released immediately and unconditionally.

“Whatever deplorable tactics the authorities may try, they will never be able to erase Liu Xiaobo’s legacy. Thanks to him, millions of people in China and across the world have been inspired to stand up for freedom and justice in the face of oppression.”

Liu Xiaobo helped devise a call for political reform in China, known as Charter 08. As a result, he was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power”.

The Nobel Peace laureate died in custody of liver cancer, and the authorities refused his and his family’s last wish for him to travel abroad to receive treatment. He was recognised by Amnesty as a prisoner of conscience.

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