Monday, 24 September, 2018

Widow of Chinese Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo arrives in Berlin

2017 during a ceremony for her late husband 2017 during a ceremony for her late husband
Kenny Thornton | 12 July, 2018, 16:19

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.

Liu Xia, 57, an artist, photographer, and poet, was never charged with a crime.

Her husband Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, died last year of liver cancer while serving an 11-year sentence for "subversion". "I hope that being in a free country will allow Liu Xia to heal her longstanding traumas and wounds". Her brother, Liu Hui, was not on the plane, they said.

Based on a series of lengthy statements issued by both China's state news agency, Xinhua, and China's foreign ministry, China achieved fruitful results on trade with Germany.

After Liu Xiaobo's funeral in July a year ago, his widow did not return to her home in Beijing until September, as calls grew from the global community and supporters for her release. She has discussed Liu Xia's case with Chinese officials.

Chinese authorities put Liu under house arrest in 2010, days after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded her imprisoned husband, Liu Xiaobo, the Peace Prize, infuriating the Chinese government.

China claimed that Liu Xia's freedom of movement was not impeded.

"Xiaobo is gone, and there's nothing in the world for me now", Liu tearfully told Liao.

"Today at around 11:00 am, Liu Xia took a Finnair flight and left Beijing", friend Ye Du said.

"The release of Liu Xia shows that when concerned governments push hard enough, Beijing will back down", Richardson said. "We hope she is en route to freedom and hopefully a more peaceful life".

Liu Xiaobo was only the second Nobel Peace Prize victor to die in police custody, and human rights group say that shows the Communist Party's increasingly hard line. The German government negotiated Liu Xia's release, whose health significantly deteriorated during almost eight years of house arrest.

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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. "Sister has already left Beijing for Europe at noon to start her new life".

Liu's departure came during a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Berlin, where he met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, although a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman denied any "association or link between this incident and the visit".

But he said the authorities still control the fate of Liu Hui, which will likely act as a restraint on what she can do or say in Germany. 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.

China has previously criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release, saying that foreign countries were making "improper remarks" over what Beijing sees as a domestic affair.

Virtually all of her friends' attempts to visit her were stymied by the guards that stood sentry outside her apartment at all times.

Several people expressed concern about Liu's brother, Liu Hui, who was accused of fraud and sentenced to jail.

"It's easier to die than live".

China has maintained that Liu Xia was free and accorded all rights guaranteed to her by law. "Using death to defy could not be any simpler for me".

An accomplished artist and poet, Liu told Associated Press reporters during an unexpected visit to her home in 2012 that she had anticipated China would punish her for her husband's Nobel award but she had not expected to be kept under "Kafkaesque" house arrest.

This however does not herald an improvement in human rights, this diplomat said, adding that on the contrary, "we can see it is getting worse".

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