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Nobel widow Liu Xia leaves China after 8 years' house arrest

12 July 2018, 04:19 | Darnell Patrick

Nobel widow Liu Xia leaves China after 8 years' house arrest

Nobel widow Liu Xia leaves China after 8 years' house arrest

Liu Xia, who was a poet in her own right, told friends she was heavily surveilled and effectively detained after the death of her husband, writer and activist Liu Xiaobo.

My sister left Beijing to fly to Europe at noon, to start her new life. While all expressed relief for Liu Xia, there is concern for her family, notably her brother Liu Hui, who was sentenced to 11 years for fraud in 2013, possibly as retribution for Liu Xiaobo's Nobel award. "May the rest of her life be peaceful and happy".

Liu Xia, the widow of late Chinese political dissident Liu Xiaobo, has left Beijing on a flight to Berlin, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

Leung said: "It was such good news for us since we have been here for more than one month to collect signatures for Ms. Liu Xia's release".

Liu Xia was never charged with a crime but has spent eight years under house arrest.

Liu Xia's departure was "wonderful news" but harassment of her family remained a risk to her freedom to criticise China, Amnesty International's China researcher Patrick Poon said.

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".

Liu Xia was put under house arrest without trial after her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. State security assigned guards around-the-clock outside her Beijing home and restricted her access to the internet and the outside world, allowing her only occasional phone calls with a small circle of friends.

Liu had become a cause celebre and was seen as a test case for China's attitude to human rights, with activists and foreign powers urging Beijing to allow her to leave the country.

Rights groups and Western nations had been raising pressure on Beijing over Liu Xia in recent months, as fears grew among rights groups that she might never be able to leave and live overseas, a wish she had made clear.

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"I'm in a sea of joy", said veteran activist "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung as he drank a toast to Liu Xiaobo.

Liu Xia is an accomplished artist and poet who reluctantly followed her husband into politics two decades ago.

Liu, as has been noted multiple times, is guilty of only having fallen in love with Liu Xiaobo, who she married in 1996.

After the Lunar New Year visit and the promise that she could soon be on a plane, Liu Xia began to despair when nothing had happened by April. He returned from an academic job in the United States to take part in the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and was arrested in the aftermath of the massacre there - the first of several stints in Chinese jail cells.

But now, Liu Xia is reported to have been allowed to leave China.

Speaking to AFP before her departure, close friend Ye Du said Liu was suffering from "very severe" depression, adding she would "sometimes faint" and was taking medicine to sleep.

He died last summer of late-term liver cancer after the Chinese government repeatedly denied his request to receive medical treatment overseas. "It would be easier to die than to live". The last time a famous political prisoner was permitted to leave China was in 2012.

The Chinese government has confirmed the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has left China for Germany, saying Liu Xia is seeking medical treatment. "Nothing would be simpler for me than dying in defiance". The Chinese authorities have maintained that she has the same rights as all Chinese citizens. He also has introduced a bill to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington "Liu Xiaobo Plaza".

Those who signed the statement included: Bernard Duhaime, chair-rapporteur of the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Seong-Phil Hong, chair-rapporteur of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and Michel Forst, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.



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