China says Liu Xia getting medical treatment

Elias Hubbard
July 12, 2018

The widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize victor Liu Xiaobo has been allowed to leave the country, boarding a flight for Germany, reports say. That was the last time she left home as a free woman. But Liu said she had not expected to be kept under house arrest.

Liu Xia was never charged but was largely confined to her Beijing home.

On the contrary, "we can see it is getting worse".

"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".

Photographers caught up with her in Helsinki, where she was in transit, and she grinned widely for the cameras spreading her arms - a stark contrast from the few images of her that have surfaced over the past few years in China. "We hope she is en route to freedom and hopefully a more peaceful life".

Liu's release comes as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Germany, a country that in May said it would welcome the widow after a recording was released of her crying in desperation and indicating she has given up hope of being able to leave China.

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.

Liu was believed to be reluctant to leave China over her family's safety.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said Liu left for Germany to seek "medical treatment on her own accord".

Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges after co-authoring a petition known as Charter 08 calling for sweeping political reforms in China.

Liu was awarded the Nobel on October 8, 2010. People who know about the issue said Merkel also discussed Liu's case during a visit in May.

Three pro-democracy advocates held a news conference by a bronze statue of Liu Xiaobo which they unveiled last month to commemorate the upcoming one-year anniversary of the Nobel Peace laureate's death in Chinese custody.

Liu Xiaobo is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.

"It's easier to die than live". "Nothing would be simpler for me than dying in defiance". He was a writer, critic and activist who called for political reforms and an end to one-party rule in China. 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. According to AP, Liu Xia's brother, Liu Hui, sent his thanks to his sister's supporters via social media.

Officials at the German embassy in Beijing did not confirm the news when contacted by Reuters and referred questions to the German Foreign Office in Berlin.

Liu Hui is in China. Those close to her say she suffers from heart ailments and depression, and has many times asked to leave China.

When Liu Xiaobo died a year ago, Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged the Chinese government to let Liu Xia and her brother leave the country for Germany. She was shown at his closely staged funeral dressed in black and wearing dark sunglasses as she clutched a photograph of her husband.

Activists in Hong Kong gave a minute's applause for Liu Xia, followed by a minute's silence at a memorial for the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest veteran Liu Xiaobo, which was adorned with pictures of the couple. The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died of tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while jailed for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. Ye said he was informed of Liu's departure by her older brother. While in Beijing in May, German chancellor Angela Merkel met with the wife of a detained human rights lawyer.

Shih reported from Beijing.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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