Chinese activist's wife describes his imprisonment

 

Beijing, China

After more than two years of house arrest and government-imposed silence, the wife of China's imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo on Thursday talked to reporters who snuck in to see her during an apparent lunch break by the guards watching her apartment.

In her first interview since 2010, Liu Xia described her husband's imprisonment and her house arrest to journalists from the Associated Press as Kafkaesque.

"I really never imagined that after he won I would not be able to leave my home," she said, describing her new life, which is restricted to an apartment with no Internet, phone or trips outside, except to buy groceries and visit her parents. "This is too absurd."

Her comments come days ahead of the two-year anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, at which his absence was symbolized with an empty chair, and as the Chinese government celebrates the country's only other native Nobel laureate living there, fiction writer Mo Yan, who departed for Stockholm this week to collect the award.

The timing highlights the stark difference in the government's approach to the two men — condemning Liu's award as a discredit and grossly unjust political act by Norway while praising this year's award as a well-deserved recognition of China's "time-honored history and . . . splendid culture."

Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year prison sentence for "subversion of state power" after helping to author and circulate a call for democratic and human rights reforms called Charter 08.

A petition started by Desmond Tutu demanding that Liu Xiaobo be freed was released this week along with signatures from 134 fellow Nobel laureates.

Although much of the attention has focused on her husband's plight, human rights groups say Liu Xia's house arrest is, in some ways, an even more flagrant legal abuse. She was put under house arrest without any charges or conviction of any crime. There is no legal provision for such arrests under Chinese law.

Her imprisonment, activists groups say, contradicts official commitments to strengthen rule of law in China.

In his most recent comments on the subject, China's new top leader, Xi Jinping, admitted this week that some officials abuse their power and said that he vowed to fight for rule of law. "We must firmly establish throughout society the authority of the constitution and the law and allow the overwhelming masses to fully believe in the law," Xi said.

In a phone interview Thursday, Liu Xiaobo's attorney, Mo Shaoping, said, "It's good that Xi Jinping addressed the constitution, but it's not important about what he said. More important is what he will do. If the new leaders really want to improve the judiciary system, they should free Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia." Mo said he held out hope for some movement on Liu's and his wife's situation. "Liu Xiaobo is the best chess piece in their hand if they want to improve their international image."

According to the Associated Press report, Liu Xia appeared frail and was visibly shaken with surprise when several reporters from the news agency were able to enter her apartment. She said that she last saw her husband a few weeks ago and that although she is forbidden to tell him about her house arrest, he knows she is being detained.

"I told him: 'I am going through what you are going through almost,' " according to the AP report.

Reached by phone, Liu Xiaobo's younger brother expressed surprise that reporters had been able to reach Liu's wife. The brother, Liu Xiaoxuan, who lives in Guangzhou, in Guangdong province, said that, like most others, he had lost any way of reaching Liu Xia directly for months. "I had lost connection with Liu Xia. . . . I can only pass word to her via her mother," he said.

The brother said he was able to visit Liu Xiaobo at prison in September but declined to speak further out of worry that more comments to foreign media could worsen his family's situation.

- - -

Washington Post special correspondent Zhang Jie contributed to this report.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Consultant - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to sell somethin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Graphic Designer / Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a Junior Graphic Designer / ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Finance Assistant - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: General Maintenance Person - Automotive

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen