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Asia-pacific

Wife of Nobel peace laureate hopes to attend ceremony

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-10-12

Imprisoned in China, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xaobo will be unable to travel to Oslo to accept his prize. He has charged his wife Liu Xia to go in his place. Now the world waits to see if Chinese authorities will allow her to do so.

It looks as though the battle for Liu Xia is far from over. As the wife of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate and imprisoned Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo, she had hoped to be able to travel to Norway in December to accept her husband’s prize on his behalf and participate in the official Nobel ceremony. Liu Xia herself has been under house arrest since Sunday night, and there is no guarantee that Chinese authorities will allow her to leave the country.

“Liu Xiaobo absolutely wanted me to participate. Me too, I want to”, Liu Xia said in a telephone interview with the French news website Mediapart. “But it’s complicated”.

After Liu Xia visited her husband Sunday at the Jonhzou prison where he is imprisoned, she was put under house arrest in her West Beijing apartment and her mobile phone was disconnected. Her only means of communication have been via the micro-blogging site Twitter, or through a separate phone line.

According to Mediapart, Liu Xia does not know when she will be allowed to leave her home again.

“And if I am able to fly to Norway, will they allow me to return to China?” Liu Xia wondered aloud. For the moment, Chinese authorities have given no indication whatsoever regarding the Nobel Prize ceremony.

On the other hand, the United States condemned China’s handling of Liu Xia in a statement Tuesday.

“Her rights should be respected, and she should be allowed to move freely without harassment”, a spokesman for the US embassy in Beijing said.

The US reaction came just one day after diplomats from the European Union, Australia and Switzerland attempted in vain, to see Liu Xia at her home. No one got through.

Lawyers appeal for a new trial

According to the Hong Kong Human Rights Commission, Liu Xia has confirmed by phone that her husband has been suffering from a severe gastrointestinal ulcer. However, Liu Xiaobo must undergo additional medical exams to determine if he is positive for hepatitis B, a diagnosis that would allow him to request his release from prison on medical grounds.

In addition to this, the activist’s lawyers intend to appeal for a new trial.

“We are in the process of seeing what can be done. If we make the appeal, of course it would be to plead ‘not guilty’”, said Liu Xiaobo’s lawyer Shang Baojun.

A veteran rights activist imprisoned in north-east China, Liu Xiaobo became the first Chinese citizen ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The 54 year-old is currently serving an 11-year sentence after co-authoring “Charter 08”, a political document calling on the Chinese government to give way to democratic change.

China, for its part, has refused to hide its anger at the Nobel committee for awarding the Peace Prize to a ‘dissident’.

“To give the Nobel Peace Prize to a criminal serving a prison sentence translates into an utter lack of respect for China’s judicial system”, a spokesperson for China’s foreign affairs ministry said Tuesday.

 

Date created : 2010-10-12

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