Fresh Wave of International Support for Liu Xia

In a show of solidarity with writer , who is living under official detention in her home, prominent artists around the world have recorded videos of themselves reading her poetry. Among the artists involved are Nobel literature prize laureate JM Coetzee, Pulitzer prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon, American novelist Paul Auster and Chinese-born writers Hu Ping and Ma Jian. Author of “The Kite Runner” Khaled Hosseini released this statement: “As artists who are free to speak (we) must do so on behalf of other artists whose voices are being stifled.” PEN America and Amnesty International produced the videos of her poems, which Liu composed while she has been under house arrest. The Guardian’s Alison Flood writes:

PEN America’s chief executive Suzanne Nossel said the Chinese government’s claim that Liu “enjoys all freedoms in accordance with the law” was hollow.

“As efforts to allow [her] to travel abroad for medical treatment stall, literary and human rights communities renew and amplify their call to release a poet who has been accused of no crime,” said Nossel. “We are proud to stand with Liu Xia’s literary peers to celebrate her work and challenge the Chinese government’s relentless campaign to erase her voice.”

Amnesty International’s East Asia campaigns director Lisa Tassi called the Chinese government’s “efforts to silence” Liu “despicably cruel … Liu Xia’s poetry inspires so many who are now united in calling for her to be free.” [Source]



Liu, 57, is widow to Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiabo, who died last July. Though never accused of nor charged with any crime, she has been under de facto house arrest by Chinese authorities since her late husband received the award in 2010. Treated for clinical depression after being detained, Liu announced in April that she was “ready to die” during a phone call with her friend and writer Liao Yiwu. This week, foreign diplomats attempting to meet with Liu at her home were refused entry by police.  AFP has more:

The diplomats’ visit came following increased concern in recent days about Liu Xia’s psychological health.

The diplomats, including a European Union, French, Canadian and a German envoy, tried to visit her home on Friday morning but were turned away by officials at the gate to the complex, the sources said.

[…] Despite the daily restrictions and surveillance faced by Liu Xia, Chinese authorities still maintain she is free.

[…] When asked earlier this month about western diplomatic calls for Liu Xia to travel abroad, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters: “But Liu Xia is a Chinese citizen. The relevant Chinese authorities will handle relevant issues in accordance with the law.” [Source]

Although Liu has been told her arrest would be lifted numerous times, upon reaching the deadline, the date has always been pushed forwards. The South China Morning Post provides details of how she has been repeatedly lied to:

Ye Du, a writer and close friend, said Liu had been in a very low mood since she realised she had been fooled by the authorities’ empty promises.

“First they promised her she could leave after the two sessions,” he said, referring to the annual meetings of China’s parliament and its advisory body in March.

“Then after the two sessions, they said she could leave by the end of April. They’ve been lying all along – she doesn’t even has her passport as of now.”

[…] “You can’t imagine her huge disappointment. Until earlier last month, she still thought there was a good chance for her to leave [China], and now that hope has been dashed,” Ye said. [Source]

Meanwhile, missing Chinese lawyer Wang Quanzhang’s wife Li Wenzu was also placed under house arrest, after she marched 60 miles from Beijing to Tianjin to demand information as to her husband’s whereabouts. Disappearing in the July 2015 “Black Friday” crackdown on lawyers, Wang has not been seen for over 1000 days.

  • Correction: This post was edited to correct attribution to AFP.