Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Liu Xia, wife of late China dissident, arrives in Berlin


Liu Xia had been under house arrest since her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and Beijing has been under pressure to allow her to leave China. He wrote, "I am grateful for people's concern and assistance these past years". He also has introduced a bill to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington "Liu Xiaobo Plaza".

"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".

PEN America's members and supporters, working in solidarity with writers and readers all over the world, have campaigned relentlessly for Liu Xia's freedom throughout her confinement through letters, postcards, petitions, live protests, social media campaigns, videos, the distribution of her poems, and readings of her work.

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.

Germany has been pushing China to let Liu leave following the death of her husband on July 13, 2017, from liver cancer while in Chinese custody, Western diplomats have said.

- "Very severe" depression - Speaking to AFP before her departure, close friend Ye Du told AFP that Liu was suffering from "very severe" depression, adding that she would "sometimes faint".

"It is a tremendous relief that Liu Xia has been able to leave China for freedom overseas", said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. She has never been charged with any crime.

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Guards ate and slept outside her door, driving away well-wishers, activists, journalists and diplomats - a slow-burning ordeal worse than death, she said in a rare recording that emerged in May.

Ms Liu, a painter and poet, was arrested and had her mobile phone deactivated when she visited her husband during his fourth prison term. The first anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death is Friday.

"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. "Using death to defy could not be any simpler for me". "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".

China had criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release as interference in its domestic affairs and insisted that Liu Xia was free.

Mr Liu died of liver cancer last July while under government custody, prompting fresh worldwide calls for his wife's release.

Frances Eve, a researcher for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said Liu Xia's "long-awaited" release was an "easy win" likely meant to stem the criticism around the upcoming anniversary of Liu's death in custody.

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". "The Chinese authorities tried to silence her, but she stood tall for human rights".

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