Widow of Nobel laureate and dissident Liu Xiaobo leaves China for Germany

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 11, 2018

The Chinese government permitted Liu Xia, the widow of dissident Liu Xiaobo, to board a plane to Germany on the morning of July 10, 2018, almost a year to the day since her husband's death, Human Rights Watch said today.

Berlin and other Western governments have been pushing for China to allow Liu to leave the country ever since her husband died of liver cancer a year ago this month.

While authorities allowed Liu Xia to leave China, her brother Liu Hui reportedly has remained in China. I'm grateful for those who cared about her and helped her all these years. "I hope her life from now on is filled with peace and happiness".

"I hope Liu Xia can find some personal peace and restore her health in Germany", said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who called her fate in recent years "nothing short of tragic".

Liu's close friends Gao Yu, a veteran journalist in Beijing, and Wu Yangwei, better known by his pen name Ye Du, said Liu Xia was on a Finnair flight to Berlin that left Tuesday morning.

After the Lunar New Year visit and the promise that she could soon be on a plane, Liu Xia began to despair when nothing had happened by April.

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. According to AP, Liu Xia's brother, Liu Hui, sent his thanks to his sister's supporters via social media.

While there was no immediate comment from its embassy, Germany had been urging China to allow Mrs Liu to leave.

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Chinese authorities put Liu under house arrest in 2010, days after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded her imprisoned husband, Liu Xiaobo, the Peace Prize, infuriating the Chinese government.

Friends and advocates have been calling for Liu Xia's release so she can seek medical help for severe depression. In a May visit to Beijing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed the Chinese leadership on its human rights record and raised Liu Xia's case directly with China's leader Xi Jinping. 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.

"She was not part of our group of dissidents", Hu Jia, a Beijing-based activist and friend of Liu Xiaobo, told AFP. "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".

Officials have also insisted that Liu Xia was a free citizen - a clear contradiction of the reality on the ground, according to her friends and people who encountered guards blocking their attempts to visit her at her home in Beijing.

"Liu Xia should have been able to live and grieve freely while her husband was wrongly detained and when he grew ill and died", said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. That was the last time she left home as a free woman. "Dying is easier than living - there is nothing simpler for me than to protest with death".

Diplomats have said that authorities had continued to monitor Ms Liu after the death of her husband and she had only been able to meet and speak to friends and family in pre-arranged phone calls and visits.

Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer last July while under government custody, prompting a new round of worldwide calls for his widow's release.

The pale, bespectacled poet, who had long sported a shaved haircut, appeared gaunt and somber in most of the images.

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