Liu Family Seeks Jail Visit

The brothers of a jailed Chinese laureate hope to accept the Nobel peace prize on his behalf.
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Liu Xiaobo, in an undated photo.
Liu Xiaobo, in an undated photo.

HONG KONG—The family of jailed 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has applied to the Chinese government for a permit to visit the dissident in prison, calling on the government to release him to receive his award in person in Oslo.

"I and my older brother Liu Xiaoguang have applied in Dalian to visit [him]," Liu Xiaobo's brother Liu Xiaoxuan said in an Oct. 26 interview.

"We are now waiting for the request to be approved. It's for November."

Earlier this month, the authorities refused to allow Liu Xiaoguang to visit the Nobel laureate at Jinzhou prison in the northeastern province of Liaoning, in an apparent violation of prison rules.

Liu Xiaoxuan said the brothers had a number of things to discuss.

"As his brother I feel that it would be best if Liu Xiaobo were released as soon as possible," he said.

"It would be best if he could be released and go and receive the prize himself. We will see how the government reacts."

Pressure mounting

Shaanxi-based rights activist Zhang Jiankang called on the Chinese government to act in an open-minded manner, and embrace the international values behind the award.

"They should be honest and admit that the human rights situation is pretty serious," Zhang said. "All this talk of sovereignty and China's internal affairs is complete nonsense."

Pressure is mounting on Beijing to free Liu Xiaobo ahead of the December award presentation ceremony in Oslo.

A group of 15 former peace prize winners this week urged U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders in a letter to further press Chinese President Hu Jintao on Liu.

Signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, and Jimmy Carter, among others, the letter called for Liu's case to be raised in talks with Hu at the G20 summit on Nov. 10-11.

But China has repeated its view that Liu Xiaobo is a convicted criminal.

"We oppose any attempt to make an issue out of this," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

"We oppose anyone infringing on China's judicial authority in any way."

"China's constitution and laws protect the basic rights of citizens. Chinese citizens should exercise their rights within a legal framework," Ma added.

Dissidents held

However, a second Shaanxi-based activist, Zhang Changqing, said he was detained by police in Beijing after he tried to celebrate Liu Xiaobo's award with friends.

"I arrived in Beijing on Oct. 24, and the Beijing police started to watch me at about 3 p.m.," Zhang Changqing said. "Yesterday at about 5 a.m. they took me to the airport and brought me back here."

"They have put me in a hotel room in my county town. They haven't told me why they are doing this, but they say it's going to last until the end of December," he said.

"They said they hoped that I would cooperate with them. It must be costing the government a lot of money; our county is fairly poor, and we had a flood disaster here this year. It's such a shame."

A Beijing-based member of the banned China Democracy Party, Hu Shigen, said the authorities were holding dissidents and rights activists under house arrest across the country in the wake of Liu's award, announced in Oslo on Oct. 8.

"There are a lot of people being held under house arrest in Beijing," Hu said. "In the past, people would never have been confined at home and prevented from going out."

He said that previously, articles written by fellow Beijing-based activists Cui Weiping, Xu Youyu or Yu Jie would have scarcely raised an eyebrow.

"Now they're not even allowed to leave their homes," he said. "It's the same in other places too."

He said Shandong-based retired university professor Sun Wenguang and Guizhou-based activist Chen Xi were also being confined at home, as well as members of the writers' group, Independent Chinese PEN, Hu said.

Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison last December on subversion charges after co-authoring the Charter 08 manifesto, calling for sweeping political change in China.

His wife, Liu Xia, was placed under virtual house arrest at the couple's Beijing apartment when the award was announced and has been largely unreachable since then, with her phone apparently cut off.

Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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