China: Tens of thousands demand President Xi frees Liu Xia
Almost 70,000 people from across the world have urged China’s President to lift all restrictions and end the harassment against poet and artist Liu Xia, one month after the death of her husband, 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. Prisoner of Conscience, Liu Xiaobo, passed away in custody two days earlier.
In an open letter to President Xi Jinping, nearly 70,000 people call on the Chinese authorities to lift all arbitrary restrictions against Liu Xia, and ensure she can travel freely.
“Liu Xia is being cruelly punished for never giving up on her wrongfully imprisoned late husband,” said Lisa Tassi, East Asia Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International.
“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 Yunnan and then sent back to Beijing, where she lives. Her whereabouts are currently unknown.
She has suffered from psychological stress, anxiety and depression as a result of her treatment at the hands of the authorities.
Since Liu Xiaobo’s death, the authorities have detained or harassed activists who held memorials for him. Six activists in Guangdong have been criminally detained on suspicion of “assembling a crowd to disturb social order” after they held a seaside memorial.
“All those detained for legitimately exercising their freedom of expression must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Lisa Tassi.
“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. All he did was exercise his human rights: but 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 to travel abroad to receive treatment. He was recognized by Amnesty International as a Prisoner of Conscience.