Ms. Zeng Jinyan, a blogger and activist in Hong Kong, made public on December 3rd three requests issued by Ms. Liu Xia in relation to her house arrest in China. Liu Xia, a painter and photographer, is the wife of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights defender, Mr. Liu Xiaobo; she is under house arrest in Beijing and it has been widely reported that her mental health is deteriorating.
Liu Xiaobo is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”. Liu Xia was placed under strict house arrest at her home in Beijing since shortly after the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced her husband’s selection as the Peace Prize Laureate for 2010 for “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”. She has been held incommunicado for over three year without access to phone, Internet or mail. Guards remain outside her apartment at all times, and individuals who attempt to visit her have been detained. No criminal charges have been brought against her.
On the morning of December 3rd 2013, Zeng Jinyan posted on her blog three requests made by Liu Xia to the Chinese government. These requests were as follows: 1) “I request the right to consult a doctor freely;” 2) “I request that Liu Xiaobo and I are allowed the right to read the correspondence we write to each other;” 3) “I request the right to work and receive an income.”
Ms. Zeng also said that Liu Xia, age 54, was diagnosed with coronary disease in the 1990s, and her solitary house arrest since her husband and brother were jailed has meant that her mental state has deteriorated rapidly. According to Zeng Jinyan, Liu Xia is not willing to see a police-appointed doctor under police escord for fear of being interned in a psychiatric hospital, a punishment sometimes used by the Chinese authorities to silence human rights defenders. Ms. Zeng suggested in her blog that the international specialist organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders send an internationally renowned psychiatric specialist for a one-to-one consultation with Liu Xia.
Regarding her second request, Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo have not been permitted to read the letters they send to each other.
In June 2013, Liu Xia’s brother, Mr. Liu Hui, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “financial fraud”, in a case widely considered as political retribution for the Liu family. Liu Xia had been financially dependent on her brother until his arrest.
Since then, Liu Xia has struggled to support herself financially while her wider family has also been placed in financial difficulty due to the legal costs associated with Liu Hui’s trial. Human rights organization Front Line Defenders believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo and is extremely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Liu Xia.
On the even of US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Beijing this week, PEN American Center, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International USA issued a public letter asking Mr. Biden to pressure his counterparts to release imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia.