Liu Xiaobo Briefly Leaves Jail; Wife's House Arrest Continues

Associated Press’s Gillian Wong highlights the ongoing house arrest of Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.

has been completely cut off from communication with the outside world, and leads a lonely and oppressed life,” said Beijing activist Zeng Jinyan, the wife of another well-known dissident who has endured bouts of surveillance and harassment. “It has already been a year, I dare not imagine how much longer she must bear this pain ….”

China has a long history of punishing family members of government critics. But the Liu case is different because he’s the first to win the Peace Prize and by isolating Liu Xia the government seems intent on preventing the frail-looking 51-year-old poet with close-cropped hair and wire-rimmed glasses from becoming a rallying point for political activists ….

“As far as I know, the way she is treated is unprecedented in the history of the ,” said Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. “Her situation is extremely regrettable.”

Former CDT contributor Rachel Beitarie wrote at Foreign Policy in May about Liu’s house arrest as part of a trend toward punishment of dissidents’ families. Another glaring example is the detention of Chen Guangcheng’s family in a house stripped of books, papers, computers, toys and other belongings. Chen’s six-year-old daughter has been prevented from attending school.

The AFP reports that Liu Xiaobo was allowed out of prison shortly after his father’s death, though Human Rights Watch’s Nicholas Bequelin commented that “Todays news about do not assuage our concerns, nor justify turning Liu Xia into an hostage of the State.”

Liu Xiaoxuan said his elder brother “was sent back home on September 18″ to mark the seventh day after his father’s death — an important day in Chinese culture when families gather to remember the person who died ….

“It’s not convenient for me to tell you about details of how long Liu Xiaobo stayed at home or what he did,” he said.

But he said he had been able to see the former university professor on Wednesday last week, when he paid him a visit in prison along with his two other brothers.

Liu Xiaoxuan said his elder brother “was looking very well”, adding Liu’s wife Liu Xia, who has effectively been placed under since her husband was awarded the peace prize, had also been allowed to visit in August.