Expressing condolences over the death of Chinese Noble laureate Liu Xiabo, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on China to release his wife and allow her to leave the country. Liu Xia has been under high arrest since 2010, after her husband was jailed for 11 years for pro-democracy activities.
“Today, I join those in China and around the world in mourning the tragic passing of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died while serving a lengthy prison sentence in China for promoting peaceful democratic reform,” Tillerson said in a statement. “I call on the Chinese government to release Liu Xia from house arrest and allow her to depart China, according to her wishes.”
Xiaobo was awarded Noble Peace Prize in 2010 after the committee recognised his efforts to champion human rights in China. However, China jailed Xiaobo for “inciting subversion of state power” was unhappy with the award, and did not allow him or his family to go to Norway to receive it. The committee then presented the award to an empty chair on behalf of Liu. His wife, Liu Xia has been under house arrest since then. She has been denied from having any contact with the outside world. Read: Who is Liu Xiaobo? Click here
Xia’s last interaction was through a video message, posted via a friend. In the message she said that her husband “can’t do surgery, can’t do radiation therapy, can’t do chemotherapy.” Many activists in the past had demanded the state to allow Xiaobo to move abroad to receive treatment for his liver cancer. Reports suggest that the isolation and confinement imposed on Xia by the state has resulted in her suffering from psychological stress, anxiety and depression.
Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad, the High commissioner of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also urged China to guarantee freedom of movement for Liu Xia. Amnesty International, meanwhile, has started a petition to urge the state to revoke the house arrest placed on her “illegally.”
Liu Xiaobo passed away on Thursday at a hospital in China while in custody. Liu is survived by his wife and his son from a previous marriage.