China frees Nobel widow from house arrest that drew outcry

Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo has left China

"I don't see any association or link between this incident and the visit paid by Premier Li", said Hua. In April, she said to a friend in an emotional phone call, "If I can't leave, I'll die in my home..."

China allowed the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo to be freed from house arrest and leave for Berlin on Tuesday, ending an eight-year ordeal that drove the poet into depression and drew intense criticism of Beijing's human rights record.

Human rights groups are cautiously celebrating Liu Xia's departure from China on Tuesday, as they urge the global community to keep in mind the abuses suffered by her and her late husband, Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Liu was awarded the Nobel prize on October 8, 2010. He died last year from liver cancer while serving an 11-year prison sentence.

Beijing's decision to allow long-suffering Chinese artist and poet Liu Xia to fly to Germany after years of house arrest is a gesture of goodwill as it seeks to firm up ties with Berlin, observers said.

"Liu Xia was never a political person, and yet, for nearly eight years enormous misery was heaped upon her by Chinese authorities for the crime of merely having married her husband", Genser said in a statement Tuesday.

The Chinese-language report said Liu Xia was aboard a Finnair flight that departed from Beijing at 11 a.m. (0300 GMT).

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Her friends say her inability to leave her home has taken a toll on her mental health, especially following her husband's death.

"The lesson of Liu Xia and her courageous husband, the late Nobel Peace Prize victor Liu Xiaobo, who was murdered by the Communist Chinese regime, is simple yet powerful: darkness fears light and mendacity fears truth, so tyrants can not tolerate either", he continued. Chinese authorities repeatedly declined to discuss Liu Xia's confinement, which critics say was cruel and illegal. During Liu Xiaobo's almost eight years in a Liaoning prison, very little was known about the conditions of his imprisonment.

The primary doctor responsible for Liu Xiaobo's treatment said at a press conference late Thursday that in the activist's final moments, he told his wife to "live well". "The Chinese authorities tried to silence her, but she stood tall for human rights".

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia. A harrowing recording of this conversation was released on 2 May 2018. Liu Xia was never accused of a crime.

Those who signed the statement included: Bernard Duhaime, chair-rapporteur of the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Seong-Phil Hong, chair-rapporteur of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and Michel Forst, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. The statement was also endorsed by David Kaye, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression.

Chinese authorities had consistently maintained Liu was free but imposed severe restrictions on her movement and she was under constant surveillance. On Aug. 2, the U.N. Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances filed a complaint denouncing the multiple violations of worldwide law in her case.

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