On the Fifth Anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s Arrest, Grave Concerns for Liu Xia
Chinese poet and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year prison sentence for his dissident writings and peaceful activism, the fifth year of which will be marked on December 8, 2013. His wife, poet and artist Liu Xia, has been held under unofficial house arrest since October 2010, and is said to be suffering from severe depression. PEN believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity.
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Liu Xiaobo Case Background
Liu Xiaobo was arrested on December 8, 2008, and held under "residential surveillance," a form of pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing until he was formally charged on June 23, 2009, with "spreading rumors and defaming the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years." He was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009. The verdict offered as evidence seven phrases that he penned from 2005 until his detention—all either quotations from his many essays or from Charter 08, which Liu had helped draft. In mid-November 2013, his lawyer began legal proceedings to apply for a re-trial.
Liu Xiaobo first received support from PEN in 1989, when he was one of a group of writers and intellectuals who were arrested for their part in the Tiananmen Square protests, and given the label "Black Hands of Beijing" by the government. Prior to his current imprisonment, Liu spent a total of five years in prison, including a three-year sentence passed in 1996, and has suffered frequent short arrests, harassment, and censorship.
Liu Xia Case Background
Liu Xia is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. Since Liu Xiaobo was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010, Liu Xia has been held in her Beijing apartment without access to phones, the Internet, doctors of her choice, or visitors. As the third anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony approaches, security appears to be tightening around her. In recent weeks, there has been increased concern regarding the mental health of Liu Xia, who is reportedly suffering from depression.
On the morning of December 3, 2013, Hong Kong based activist Zeng Jinyan posted on her blog three requests made to the Chinese government by Liu Xia. Zeng Jinyan has not disclosed how she received the information. These requests were as follows:
- “I request the right to consult a doctor freely;”
- “I request that Liu Xiaobo and I are allowed the right to read the correspondence we write to each other;”
- “I request the right to work and receive an income.”
According to Zeng Jinyan, Liu Xia is not willing to see a police-appointed doctor for fear of being interned in a psychiatric hospital, a punishment sometimes used by the Chinese authorities to silence human rights defenders. Regarding her second request, Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo have not been permitted to read the letters they send to each other.
PEN believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity.
Read two newly translated poems by Liu Xia here.
Write A Letter
- Demanding the immediate and unconditional release of poet and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, and all those detained in China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and Article 35 of its own constitution;
- Protesting the extra-judicial detention of Liu Xia, and expressing mounting concern for her physical and psychological integrity.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. PEN recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.
See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country.
**To achieve the greatest impact, appeals should be sent during the month of December. Please contact PEN if sending appeals after December 31, 2013**