Nobel Winner Meets Wife

Liu Xiaobo dedicates his prize to Tiananmen Square "martyrs."

2010.10.10
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LiuXiaoboandLiuXia-305 Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia in a photo taken in Beijing, Oct. 22, 2002.
AFP

HONG KONG—Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo wept when told of his award and immediately dedicated it to the “lost souls” and “martyrs” of China's bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, according to his wife.

Liu Xia said in a Twitter message that she had been allowed by Chinese authorities to meet with her husband, now serving an 11-year sentence for subversion in a prison in the northeastern city of Jinzhou, Liaoning province, about 300 km (190 miles) from Beijing.

She said that prison officials told Liu Xiaobo he had won the Nobel prize a day after the announcement was made by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Oslo on Oct. 8.

Liu Xiaobo then said, “This award is for the lost souls of June Fourth,” referring to the hundreds who died in the June 4, 1989 Chinese military crackdown at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Liu Xia told the U.S.-based group Human Rights in China.

Another U.S.-based group, Freedom Now, quoted her as saying her husband dedicated the award “for the Tiananmen martyrs.”

Message via Twitter

Unable to speak with friends and media or use her cell phone, Liu Xia confirmed via a Twitter message on the night of Oct. 10 that she had met with her husband.

The message said, “I saw Xiaobo. Prison officials had told him on the evening of 9th the news that he had won the award.”

Liu Xia said she was currently under virtual house arrest in her Beijing apartment, as authorities sought to control information about her dissident husband, whom Beijing considers a “criminal.”


Liu Xia's tweet in a screen grab from her Twitter feed. Credit: Liu Xia.
Liu Xia's tweet in a screen grab from her Twitter feed. Credit: Liu Xia.
Liu Xia

Wife under surveillance

Liu Xia’s whereabouts were unknown for two days, as she disappeared into police custody hours after the Nobel Committee announced the award.

She had told the international media earlier that police were arranging to take her to visit Liu Xiaobo.

In her Twitter message on Sunday, Liu Xia also said “Brothers, I’m back. On the 8th I was put under soft detention, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to see everybody. My cell phone has been interfered with and I don’t have any way to make or receive calls."

When RFA’s reporter called Liu Xia’s cell phone Oct. 10, a recording said the phone had been switched off.

Police were seen blocking the entrance to the apartment compound in Beijing, and had also put up a roadblock outside the Jinzhou prison on Saturday.

According to one of Liu Xiaobo’s lawyers at the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Hong Kong, Liu Xia and her brother travelled to Jinzhou on the evening of Oct. 8 under police escort and arrived on Oct. 9.

He said he believed that Liu Xiaobo was taken out of the prison on Saturday and met with Liu Xia and her brother in an undisclosed location on the morning of Oct. 10. The lawyer’s statement could not be confirmed.

He also speculated that Liu Xiaobo might be transferred to Qincheng prison near Beijing, a maximum-security prison run by the Ministry of Public Security whose inmates have been mostly high-profile political prisoners.

Prison rules allow one family visit per month. In Liu Xia’s last visit to her husband in September, she was prevented from telling him that he was nominated for the award.

Liu’s award has enraged the Chinese government, which slammed it as a violation of Nobel ideals and a discredit to the Peace Prize.

Leaders around the world including U.S. President Barack Obama—last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner—lauded the 2010 winner and called on Beijing to release him immediately.

News blackout

The Chinese propaganda ministry has issued an order forbidding Chinese media reporting on the award, according to the press freedoms group Reporters Without Borders.

Since Oct. 8, Internet searches on Chinese websites for the terms “Nobel Peace Prize” and “Liu Xiaobo” have returned errors and blank messages.

Authorities in different cities have also restricted celebrations over the award as Chinese authorities stepped up pressure on activists and Liu's supporters.

The son of Beijing-based activist Wang Lihong said police told him Wang was being detained for eight days after taking part in a brief demonstration Friday at a park following the news that Liu had been awarded the peace prize, AP reported.

Some of China's most prominent activist lawyers said Saturday they were being harassed by police as they took advantage of the Nobel Prize to try to reconcile differences among themselves, the report said.

Lawyers Pu Zhiqiang, Jiang Tianyong and others said they were not allowed to leave their homes.

Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin service. Written in English with additional reporting by Rachel Vandenbrink.

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