News / Asia

Wife of Nobel Winner 'Tweets' News of Her House Arrest in China

Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who on 8 Oct won  the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for advocating non-violence to demand fundamental human rights in his homeland (file photo).
Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who on 8 Oct won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for advocating non-violence to demand fundamental human rights in his homeland (file photo).
William Ide

Liu Xia - the wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident and this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo - has posted a message on the Internet saying that she has been placed under house arrest.  

In a posting on her Twitter social networking page, Liu Xia says that she does not know when she will allowed to leave her home or contact anyone.

Beth Schwanke, legal counsel for Freedom Now, a U.S.-based human rights group that is acting as the international legal counsel for Liu Xiaobo, says Liu Xia has been under house arrest since being allowed to visit her husband in prison. "Since then, she has not been allowed to leave her apartment and no one has been allowed to enter her apartment.  I also understand that her phone has been destroyed," she said.

On Friday, after Liu Xiaobo was announced the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese authorities arranged to take Liu Xia to the prison in northeast China where her husband is jailed.

Freedom Now's Beth Schwanke says that Liu Xiaobo cried when he learned that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize.  She says he wants to dedicated to the award to all of those who were killed in the 1989 pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square.

Liu Xia's Twitter Message

Tranlation provided by the China Media Project

"Brothers, I have come back. I was put under house arrest on the 8th. I don't know when I'll be able to see everybody. My mobile phone has been messed up, so I can't receive phone calls. I saw Xiaobo. The prison told him on the 9th the news about his winning the prize. The rest I'll share with time. Won't everyone please help me push. Thanks."

"Liu Xiaobo actually became involved in the Chinese democracy movement during Tiananmen Square.  He was in the United States.  He was a visiting professor at Columbia [University in New York City] and immediately flew back to China and was one of four intellectuals who helped negotiate the students safe passage from Tiananmen Square.  He also encouraged the students to remain nonviolent," she said.

Liu was imprisoned following the Chinese government's crackdown on Tiananmen Square demonstrators.

The 54-year-old writer is serving an 11-year prison sentence for publishing a manifesto on the Internet two years ago, called Charter 08, that calls for sweeping political reforms in China and questions the country's one party system.

Beijing has voiced outrage over the Nobel committee's award to Liu Xiaobo.  There has been almost no coverage of the event in Chinese state media.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called on Chinese authorities to release Liu as soon as possible.

Beth Schwanke says her organization hopes that the international community will continue to press China to release Liu. "We hope that other world leaders will continue to follow suit - not just congratulating Liu Xiaobo, but also calling for his release," she said.

Freedom Now represents Liu Xiaobo with a team of international legal and human rights specialists.  Schwanke says that although it is unclear how the Chinese government will respond to calls to release Liu Xiaobo, she says he hopes that Liu Xia will be allowed to receive the award for her husband when the Nobel committee holds its award ceremony in December.

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