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Liu Xia's house arrest in China open to wide 'conjecture': dissident

2017/12/13 22:47:12

A group photo of Liao Yiwu (廖亦武, left), Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波, second right) and Liu Xia (劉霞, right) taken in 1996./photo courtesy of Liao

Berlin, Dec. 13 (CNA) A Chinese dissident exiled in Germany said that by keeping Liu Xia (劉霞), the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), under house arrest, the Chinese government has left infinite room for conjecture.

In a recent interview with CNA, Liao Yiwu (廖亦武) expressed dismay that China would not allow Liu Xia, who is suffering from severe depression, to leave the country.

Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since July, is in poor health both physically and mentally, said Liao, a former dissident from China who was forced into exile in 2011.

"What is the reason for not allowing an artist, who is reserved in public and suffering from severe depression, to leave the country?" Liao said. "By keeping her in China, it only leaves infinite room for conjecture among the public."

Liao, who became close friends with the Lius in the 1980s, was one of the people who signed Liu's "Charter 08," a draft manifesto that called for political change in China.

Almost all of Liao's books about the darker side of Chinese society are banned in China.

After the death of Liu Xiaobo in July 2017, Liao launched a campaign to free Liu Xia and recently released a letter that she wrote to German writer Herta Mueller, characterizing herself as a plant and a corpse.

The letter was full of words of desolation and helplessness, causing worry among her friends about her physical and mental state, according to Liao.

"I have no right to speak, Speak loudly, I live like a plant, I lie like a corpse," wrote Liu Xia, who is a poet, painter and photographer.

Liao called on governments, human rights groups and advocates in western democratic countries like Germany, the United States, France and the United Kingdom, to continue to negotiate with China for Liu's release.

On the basis of humanity and the law, Liao said, he hoped the Chinese government would release Liu Xia, whom he said had no criminal record and was on the verge of insanity.

Liu Xiaobo was arrested and sentenced to prison for drafting the "Charter 08" manifesto, which was published in December 2008 to promote judicial independence, protection of human rights, freedom of speech, religious freedom and other rights in China.

China's most famous political prisoner, Liu Xiaopo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

Liao, on his part, has continued to write books critical of China and sympathizing with Chinese dissidents who are unable to leave the country.

He has published six books since his exile to Berlin in 2011, which have become widely popular after being translated into different languages.

Next April, he plans to publish a new book about his escape from China, which he has given the working title of "Three Useless Visas and a Death Passport."

(By Lin Yu-li and S.C. Chang)