Liu Xia in five key dates

12 July, 2018, 14:14 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo right, and his wife Liu Xia pose in this undated

Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, has left China for Europe after eight years under house arrest despite never being charged with a crime.

Liu's departure comes a day after Chinese premier Li Keqiang met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

She was reunited with Liu Xiaobo in late June past year at a Shenyang hospital after the pro-democracy campaigner was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and released from jail on medical parole.

On the contrary, "we can see it is getting worse".

"It is wonderful news that Liu Xia is finally free and that her persecution and illegal detention at the hands of the Chinese authorities has come to an end, almost one year since Liu Xiaobo's untimely and undignified death", Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty said in a statement he sent to Al Jazeera. According to a social media post by her brother and a Facebook post by a close associate in Germany, she left for Berlin.

He had been sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of inciting subversion of state power.

A poet, a painter, and a photographer herself, Liu Xia's writings are inward-looking, wrote Ian Johnson, noting that her poems are laden with symbols associated with the struggles of dissidents in China, such as birds and the empty chair that has come to to represent Liu Xiaobo.

A petite woman with a shaved head and glasses, Liu Xia has been seen as "the most important link" between Liu Xiaobo and the outside world.

Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said that Liu's travel to Germany for medical treatment was "of her own free will".

A friend of Liu Xia told Reuters in May that she was losing hope of leaving the country.

Through his ordeal, Liu Xia, 57, faced her own.


Liu's friends in recent months have said her mental condition has steadily deteriorated, particularly since the death of her husband.

Ms Liu'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. People who know about the issue said Merkel also discussed Liu's case during a visit in May.

The news of her release was a rare piece of good news for China's beleaguered community of activists, who have been at the centre of an expansive crackdown on civil society, rights lawyers and other independent groups the administration of President Xi Jinping has deemed a threat to the ruling Communist Party's grip on power. "Dying is easier than living - there is nothing simpler for me than to protest with death".

"This is fantastic news, something we have all been hoping against hope for a long time, " said Hu Jia, a family friend and Beijing-based activist. "But we still fear for Liu Hui, who is being kept in the country as a guarantee so that Liu Xia does not speak out overseas".

During a telephone conversation with a friend in April, Liu Xia said she was "prepared to die" under house arrest.

In Hong Kong, pro-democracy activists celebrated at a memorial to Liu Xiaobo adorned with the couple's pictures. The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died of tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while jailed for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

Eve said the government sought to "make it seem as though it is a country ruled according to law when everything about her case has shown demonstrably that it is not".

Chinese authorities had consistently maintained Liu was free but imposed severe restrictions on her movement and kept her under constant surveillance.

He said China's constitution protected human rights.

Shih reported from Beijing.

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