Dissident's widow allowed to leave China

Liu Xia flies from Beijing to Berlin three days before the anniversary of Nobel Peace Prize laureate's death
Dissident's widow allowed to leave China

Liu Xia holds Liu Xiaobo's photo with her brother Liu Hui (left). They attended Liu Xiaobo's funeral on July 15, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Shenyang Municipal Government)

ucanews.com reporters, Hong Kong
China
July 10, 2018
Liu Xia, widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, has left China on the eve of the first anniversary of the death of her husband.

After being under house arrest since her husband won the prize in 2010, she left Beijing on a Finnair flight to Berlin at about 11am on July 10, according to BBC China.

However, her younger brother Liu Hui has remained in China.

Liu Xiaobo, a university professor turned human rights campaigner, was jailed in 2009 for inciting subversion. He died of liver cancer last year.

Liu Xia, 57, a poet, has never been charged with any crime but said in May that she was ready to die in protest at her continued detention.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Liu Xia had gone to Germany for treatment, emphasizing that it was "handled according to the laws."

"My sister has left Beijing to fly to Europe and start her new life. I am grateful to those who have cared for and helped her over the years. And my [late] parents and brother-in-law [Liu Xiaobo], please don't worry and continue to bless her. May her life be peaceful and happy," Liu Hui wrote on WeChat.

Liu Hui told Hong Kong TVB News that his sister was very excited when she left.

People from all over the world had pressured Chinese authorities to release Liu Xia before July 13, the first anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death.

Chinese writer and dissident Liao Yiwu, who is exiled in Germany, told Apple Daily that human rights were raised during talks between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on July 9 and Liu Xia's situation was probably mentioned.

Ye Du, a friend of Liu Xia, told Hong Kong TVB News that Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission officials had been to Liu Xia's earlier to discuss her departure.

Albert Ho Chun-yan, chairman of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, told ucanews.com that Liu Xia's departure from China was Liu Xiaobo's last wish. "And now she really leaves. It is a sigh of relief. Because of her current state of mind, she can no longer carry on."

Patrick Poon Kar-wai, an Amnesty International researcher, was delighted with news of her departure.

"She has been suffering from depression for many years and finally is able to go abroad for treatment, which is very good for her health."

However, he is concerned that brother Liu Hui staying in China will put pressure on her to prevent her from saying too much abroad.

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Professor Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the divinity school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Liu Xia had been treated in a very inhumane way for many years only because her husband was Liu Xiaobo, who was imprisoned on a groundless charge.

"The regime now allows her to go abroad but she still needs to remind herself to be careful, otherwise her family will be implicated. It is like Liu Xia physically flying away from China but her spirit and mind are still imprisoned on the mainland. And this is China," he said.

Rights activist Liu Xiaobo, was detained in December 2008 due to his participation in writing the Charter 08 manifesto, which called for the end of China's one-party dictatorship. In 2009, he was jailed for 11 years for inciting subversion of state power.

Liu Xia, isolated from the outside world, has suffered from depression, heart disease and severe insomnia.

In December 2012, when reporters and friends managed to visit her, she whimpered and said that she and her family were under great pressure from authorities.

Brother Liu Hui was charged with fraud in 2013 and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He has since been released on bail.

In June 2017, Liu Xiaobo was confirmed to have liver cancer in prison and was allowed to seek medical treatment. He was sent to a hospital in Shenyang of Liaoning province for treatment. He died on July 13.

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