Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Activist's widow allowed to leave China after 8 yrs

Activist's widow allowed to leave China after 8 yrs Activist's widow allowed to leave China after 8 yrs
Steven Clarke | 13 July, 2018, 15:55

One of China's highest-profile democracy campaigners has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for "subversion of state power". "I share the concerns about the future of Liu Xia's younger brother, Liu Hui, who remains in China and hope he will be allowed to join his sister in Germany if he so wishes". "Thanks to everyone who has helped and cared for her these few years". Berlin-based dissident Liao Yiwu, who is expected to welcome her in the German capital later Tuesday, voiced his joy on Twitter, saying: "I am so, so, so happy!"

The verdict was made public the day after Liu Xia, widow of dissident Liu Xiabo, was released and received permission to leave China.

Those allegations were denied by Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, who said that Liu Xia's flight to Germany was "in accordance with her own will".

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

"I hope Liu Xia can find some personal peace and restore her health in Germany".

But the days turned into months, and then years.

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"This is not a diplomatic issue", she said. In a phone recording posted on the internet in May, Liu Xia was heard sobbing and hardly talking, apparently due to her frustration with the processing of her application to leave China.

Liu's friends said her psychological condition had steadily deteriorated, particularly since the death of her husband.

The veteran activist was last convicted and sentenced to prison in late 1998 after he and other activists sought to officially register the China Democracy Party. The last time China let a high-profile political prisoner leave was in 2012, when blind activist Chen Guangcheng was allowed to fly to NY after escaping from house arrest and hiding for six days in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. "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". He died of liver cancer previous year.

"Perhaps the Chinese government realised that as the anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death approaches, keeping his widow under house arrest simply shows the Chinese to be petty, cruel and vindictive - not the image it's trying to project to the world", said Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch. "The German government deserves credit for its sustained pressure and hard work to gain Liu Xia's release". The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died of tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while jailed for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

Shih reported from Beijing.

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