Chinese poet Liu Xia was finally released from house arrest and left China after spending almost of 8 years locked in her small apartment in Beijing. Although not charged with a crime, Liu was watched by the government after her husband, Liu Xiaoba, was sentenced to 11-years in prison for calling upon political reform in China. According to the Washington Post, he became a Nobel Prize laureate a year after his imprisonment and in 2017 became the first Nobel laureate to die in jail since the Nazi era. Liu left for Germany last week, but without her younger brother as she wished she could have. The Chinese Communist Party supposedly will hold the families of exiles and immigrants hostage to ensure silence on political matters with the promise of harm onto them. Liu Xia’s brother, Liu Hui, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 11-years in prison. Although he was released on medical parole, it is very likely that can easily be reversed.
Liu said Xia to her friend on a recent phone call, “they should add a line to the constitution: ‘Loving Liu Xiaobo is a serious crime – it’s a life sentence’.” Her friend, Ye Du said Liu was suffering from “very severe depression.” According to Ye, Liu said, “I can’t fall asleep. Only by taking medication can I fall asleep and stop looking at this painful world.” Patrick Poon from Amnesty International noted it was “really wonderful that Liu Xia is finally able to leave China after suffering so much all these years.” But like the worry of others, Poon followed up with, “[Liu] might not be able to speak much for fear of her brother’s safety”. On the imprisonment of her brother, New York Times said the verdict was, “extraordinary for its severity” and the sentencing was “widely viewed as an instance of political persecution.” Chinese authorities are increasingly finding ways to silence political opposition. Jerome Cohen, an expert on Chinese law at New York University said, “Her release is a half-way house toward freedom, really a new form of restriction, another ingenious type of detention-equivalent administered by a [People’s Republic of China] that spawns new types of detention almost every day.” Political exiles and immigrants around the world live in a similar state of fear that Liu does, and the threat of dozens of families keeps them silent on serious domestic issues throughout China.
Although Chinese leaders have claimed to have let Liu leave on her own accord and that she has had the freedom to move, the actions of the authorities make it clear that Liu was under unlawful house arrest and closely watched for the past 8-years. As reports increasingly come out condemning China for its actions against political oppositions, world leaders must more seriously crackdown on the violation of human rights against those who speak for reform and against silencing free speech. China is a very diverse country with many minority groups who are not listened to in the government. Representatives of human rights across the globe must continue to fight to defend the basic rights of the Chinese people.
Liu Xiaobo had spent much of life opposing the Chinese Communist Party. In 1989, he was involved in the Tiananmen Square protests and according to a journalist who interviewed him, he was sitting helping the students. Last year, he died in custody shortly after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer as he was not allowed to leave China for treatment. Since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xia was immediately placed under a scrutinizing watch without being charged with a crime.
The Chinese government is increasingly put on the spotlight for their blatant violations of human rights. Despite condemnations from human rights organizations and journalists, they continue to silence opposing voices to the current government. Opposition to violations against the Chinese people will only make the country stronger and more prosperous, but it is evident that the Communist party fears blowback.