Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo has left China: friend

Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo has left China: friend

The release of Liu Xia, who was never charged with a crime, results from years of campaigning by Western governments and activists and comes just days before the one-year anniversary Friday of Liu Xiaobo's death.

My sister left Beijing to fly to Europe at noon, to start her new life. "If I'm dead, it'll all be done with", she told exiled Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, who released an audio clip of their phone conversation the following month.

"I didn't have a chance/ to say a word before you became/ a character in the news, / everyone looking up to you/ as I was worn down/ at the edge of the crowd", Liu Xia once wrote in a poem to her husband.

"Liu Xia has been suffering from depression and under tight surveillance for so many years", he said.

In the months since Liu Xiaobo's death, friends and supporters of Liu Xia, including United Nations human rights experts, have expressed concern about her mental health due to a series of recordings she released discussing her grief.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets regularly with dissidents during visits to China and had raised Liu Xia's case with Chinese officials, including during a visit in May, people familiar with the matter said.

China sentenced Liu Xiaobo in December 2009 to 11 years' imprisonment on charges of inciting subversion of state power after he helped write a manifesto calling for political and economic liberalization.

In a July 2017 photo released by the Shenyang Municipal Information Office, Liu Xia, wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize victor and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, holds a portrait of him during his funeral at a funeral parlor in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing that she had no further information to offer on the case and added that she did not see any association linking Liu Xia's departure with a visit to Germany by Premier Li Keqiang. "If I can't leave, I'll die in my home", she said.

In Hong Kong, pro-democracy activists celebrated at a memorial to Liu Xiaobo adorned with the couple's pictures.

She was an effervescent young poet, painter and photographer; he a public intellectual.

Liu, as has been noted multiple times, is guilty of only having fallen in love with Liu Xiaobo, who she married in 1996.

"Liu Xia might not be able to speak much for fear of her brother's safety", Poon said. He returned from an academic job in the United States to take part in the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and was arrested in the aftermath of the massacre there - the first of several stints in Chinese jail cells.

Germany has been pushing China to let Liu leave following the death of her husband on July 13, 2017, from liver cancer at the age of 61 while in custody, Western diplomats have said.

Patrick Poon from Amnesty International said it was "really wonderful" that Liu was finally allowed to leave.

In May, Berlin officials again said that should Liu Xia choose to go to Germany, she would be welcome there.

Merkel has spoken out frequently on Chinese human rights abuses and is believed to have pushed for Liu's release during her May visit to Beijing, where she met the wives of detained human rights lawyers.

The Chinese government has confirmed the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has left China for Germany, saying Liu Xia is seeking medical treatment.

He was last arrested for his role in creating Charter 08, a call for political changes in China.

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia. "Dying is easier than living - there is nothing simpler for me than to protest with death".

A successful artist and poet, Liu told Associated Press reporters during a visit to her home in 2012 that she had expected China would punish her for her husband's Nobel award.

But this does not herald an improvement in human rights, this diplomat said.

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