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Writers, artists join call for Liu Xia's release

2018-05-17 HKT 11:42
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More than two dozen writers, poets and artists have called for the release of Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Liu Xiaobo, who has been under house arrest on the mainland since her husband died in custody last year.

Concern is growing among Western diplomats and friends of Liu Xia over delayed talks to arrange for her to leave China for another country, a wish she has repeatedly made clear.

Figures such as Nobel laureate JM Coetzee, poet Rita Dove and novelists Paul Auster, Khaled Hosseini and Ma Jian recorded videos of themselves reading excerpts from Liu Xia’s poems in a campaign organised by PEN America and Amnesty International.

“Liu Xia’s cry for freedom resonates around the world and rebukes the Chinese government’s hollow claim that she is free,” Suzanne Nossel, chief executive of PEN America, said.

China’s foreign ministry, asked to comment, said Liu was a Chinese citizen and her rights were being protected according to the law. The public security ministry did not respond to a faxed request for comment.

Liu, an artist and poet who suffers from depression, has been under effective house arrest since her husband, who was jailed by Chinese authorities in 2009 for inciting subversion, won the Nobel prize in 2010.

China has said Liu Xia is free, but Western diplomats say she is closely guarded at her home and can only speak with friends and family through arranged visits and phone calls.

Western diplomats in Beijing last Friday took the rare step of attempting to visit Liu Xia in her home but were turned away by security personnel.

The PEN campaign adds to the chorus of calls from Western governments, rights groups, and friends and supporters demanding “true freedom” for Liu Xia. (Reuters)