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Peace Prize winner's wife placed under house arrest

October 17, 2010

Liu Xia detained after prison trip to tell her husband of Nobel award
By Clifford Coonan in Beijing
The Independent (UK)
October 12, 2010

The wife of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu
Xiaobo is under house arrest after a brief and
emotional meeting with her husband, during which
he dedicated his prize to the "lost souls" of the
bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in June 1989.

Liu Xia said on Twitter that she has been unable
to make phone calls and told Human Rights in
China that she was followed after she came back
from visiting Mr Liu in Jinzhou, in Liaoning
province, where he is serving 11 years in jail for subversion.

"This award is for the lost souls of 4 June," Mr
Liu told his wife during the hour-long visit,
saying that he had won the award because of the
non-violent spirit of the protesters, who gave
their lives for peace, freedom and democracy. He
broke down in tears after delivering his message,
she told the human rights group.

Mr Liu was jailed on Christmas Day last year for
co-authoring "Charter 08", a manifesto for
political reform. China is furious at the Nobel
panel's decision, saying Mr Liu is a "criminal"
and calling the award an obscene travesty that
flies in the face of the spirit of the Nobel.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama,
however, criticised China's outraged reaction,
saying the Chinese government does "not appreciate different opinions at all".

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in
1989, told the Kyodo News agency in Tokyo that
building an open, transparent society was "the
only way to save all people of China" but that
some "hardliners" in the Beijing leadership were
stuck in the "old way of thinking".

Norway said Beijing has called off a meeting with
the Norwegian fisheries minister, after the
Chinese government had previously warned that
giving the award to the 54-year-old literary
critic would harm relations between the
countries, even though the Nobel committee is an
independent non-governmental body.

The Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal
Affairs, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, arrived in China
yesterday for the World Expo in Shanghai, and was
supposed to meet China's Vice-Minister for
Fisheries tomorrow, but the Chinese cancelled the meeting.

Mr Liu is one of three people to have been
awarded the prize while being jailed by their own
government. The other two are Burma's Aung Sang
Suu Kyi in 1991 and the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1935.

Leaders around the world including US President
Barack Obama -- last year's Nobel Peace Prize
winner -- have praised Mr Liu and called on the
Chinese government to release him immediately.

Four United Nations human rights experts have
also called for Mr Liu's release, saying he is a
"courageous human rights defender who has
continuously and peacefully advocated for greater
respect for human rights" in China.

The independently appointed investigators --
Frank La Rue, El Hadji Malick Sow, Margaret
Sekaggya and Gabriela Knaul, whose brief is to
examine issues ranging from breaches of the right
to free speech to arbitrary detention -- called
on China to release Mr Liu and "all persons
detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression".

Ms Liu said that her communications had been cut
and that both her and her brother's mobile phones
have been interfered with, and she has been told
she would have to be accompanied by police if she wanted to leave the building.

Uniformed guards at Ms Liu's apartment building
have stopped European diplomats from entering the complex.

"We were told that we could only go in if we
called somebody from the inside and if they came
out to meet us. But of course, we can't call Liu
Xia, because it's impossible to get through to
her phone," Simon Sharpe, the first secretary of
political affairs of the EU delegation in China, said.

The Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, launched
a broadside against the Oslo committee in an editorial.

"The Nobel committee once again displayed its
arrogance and prejudice against a country that
has made the most remarkable economic and social
progress in the past three decades," the
editorial ran. "In 1989, the Dalai Lama, a
separatist, won the prize. Liu Xiaobo, the new
winner, wants to copy Western political systems
in China. They are trying to impose Western
values on China ... China's success story speaks
louder than the Nobel Peace Prize."

The censors have gone into overdrive to stop news
of the award spreading. Messages on social
networks are disappearing. Searches on the issue
are blocked on most search engines by the system
of controls known as the "Great Firewall of China".
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