Liu's Family 'Hostages'

Nobel laureate's wife briefly breaks silence in first online chat after four months.
2011-02-20
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Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia in a photo taken in Beijing, Oct. 22, 2002.
Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia in a photo taken in Beijing, Oct. 22, 2002.
AFP

Jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo's wife, who is being held under house arrest, says that she feels "miserable," her family is being held like "hostages," and "nobody can help her."

In what is believed to be her first contact with the outside world for four months, Liu Xia told her friend in an Internet chat that she was being held at home against her will and had seen her husband just once since his Nobel award was announced in October.

The chat took place after Liu Xia succeeded in getting an Internet connection for about five minutes late Thursday evening, while Chinese were celebrating the Lantern Festival, the last day of the Lunar New Year celebrations. Her friend happened to be online at the time.

The friend, through an intermediary, provided The Washington Post with a transcript of the conversation, hoping to make her words public and let the world know of her condition, the newspaper said in a report Sunday.

The authenticity of the transcript could not be independently verified, but another friend of Liu Xiaobo's, writer and activist Mo Zhixu, confirmed with the Post that he also saw Liu Xia online at the same time, although he was not able to chat with her.

It is not clear how she gained access to the online chat service.

Worried

Hu Ping, the chief editor of Beijing Spring, a New York-based pro-human rights and democracy journal, told RFA that he was surprised Liu Xia came online on Thursday.

He said that on Friday he had spoken on the phone with one of Liu Xia’s friends in China who was saying that everyone was worried because they had not heard any news from her in recent months.

Hu Ping also expressed concern over Liu Xia's psychological state.

She was put under strict house arrest just after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the first week of October.

She visited him in prison shortly after the announcement and briefly sent out messages through her Twitter account. Soon after, her Internet and phone lines were cut off, and she has not been seen in public.

Beijing has stepped up its crackdown on the Internet and on known activists recently amid apparent concerns over the uprisings in the Arab world.

At the weekend, Chinese authorities staged a show of force to head off potential protests after mysterious posts online urged citizens to stage a "Jasmine Revolution," referring to the January unrest that led to Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ouster and which sparked revolts in Arab states.

Transcript

"I don't know how I managed to get online," Liu Xia wrote to the friend in her post, according to the published transcript. "Don't go online. Otherwise my whole family is in danger."

The friend asked, "Are you at home?"

"Yes," Liu Xia responded, writing in Pinyin, the Chinese transliteration system. She said she was using an old computer and apparently could not type Chinese characters.

"Can't go out. My whole family are hostages," Liu Xia said. Later she wrote, "I only saw him once," apparently referring to her husband, Liu Xiaobo.

"So miserable," she wrote. "Don't talk."

"I'm crying," she added. "Nobody can help me."

The friend said he was worried about causing her more trouble but offered words of support, writing: "Please log out first. We miss you and support you. We will wait for you outside."

She replied "Goodbye" and "Okay," and the chat ended.

Reported by Tang Qiwei for RFA's Mandarin service. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.





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