Liu Xia, China, is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. Xia has been held under unofficial house arrest in her Beijing apartment since her late husband, the poet Liu Xiaobo, was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010.
For seven years, Liu Xia was held in her apartment without access to phones, internet, doctors of her choice, or visitors. Following the death of her husband in July 2017 and the expression of concern for her wellbeing, Xia appeared in a video in which she asked to be left alone to mourn – it is thought that she may have done this at the behest of the authorities.
The Independent PEN Centre (ICPC) report that the restrictions applied against Liu Xia have relaxed somewhat; she has access to a telephone and is allowed to leave her home, but is under constant surveillance. Colleagues at ICPC report that Liu Xia has been removed from Beijing for the duration of the National People’s Congress; it is expected that she will be returned to her Beijing home after this date.
There are reports that Liu Xia’s mental and physical health continue to suffer due to her detention.
PEN International believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity.
You can view writings by Liu Xia here. Watch a video of her reading her poetry here.
Write to the Chinese government:
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release from extra-judicial house arrest of the poet and artist Liu Xia, and calling for all restrictions on her freedom of movement and expression to be lifted;
- Calling for Liu Xia to be granted access to all necessary medical care;
- Urging the authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, and freedom of movement and reminding them that as a signatory to the ICCPR China is obliged to ‘refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose.’
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025
PEN strongly recommends that you also send or, if possible, personally deliver the appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it to the Chinese authorities and welcoming any comments – see below for guidance.
You may find it easier to write to the Chinese ambassador in your own country asking him or her to forward your appeal. Most embassies are obliged to forward such appeals to the relevant officials in the country. A letter or petition signed by an eminent member of your Centre may make it more likely for your appeal to be considered. Similarly if your appeal is published in your local press and copied to the Chinese ambassador, this too may have greater impact.
You can find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country here.
PEN members are encouraged to:
- Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Liu Xia;
- Suggested tweet: #China - Free Uygur poet Liu Xia immediately & unconditionally #WorldPoetryDay @pen_int (add link to action paper);
- Suggested tweet: On #WorldPoetryDay 2018 call on #China to free poet Liu Xia @pen_int (add link to action paper).
Elect Liu Xia as an honorary member of your Centre and by doing so provide long- term support and advocacy for her and her family. For details of the International PEN Honorary Membership scheme, read the PEN WiPC Guide to Defending Writers Under Attack (Part V, pp 15-20). Please let us know if you do so and we will ensure that your Centre is networked with others working on the case.
Please let us know about your activities and send us a report about them by 21 April 2018 so that we can share them with other centres.
For further information please contact Emma Wadsworth-Jones at PEN International, Unit A, Koops Mill Mews, London, SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: firstname.lastname@example.org