THE wife of the jailed Chinese dissident who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been stripped of all contact with the outside world.
Authorities in Beijing have confined Liu Xia to the high-rise flat she once shared with Liu Xiaobo, the writer and human rights activist serving an 11-year sentence for subversion.
Sources with knowledge of her family say her telephone and internet connections have been blocked and has not been allowed outside for almost a month.
If she needs to buy anything, she is allowed to compile a shopping list. She has to write down what she wants for her evening meal and police bring the dishes from a local restaurant.
Mrs Liu is no longer allowed fresh air or exercise.
“She is not the kind of person who is able to bear this kind of pressure for anything more than a short period,” a friend, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
“If it goes on beyond the (Nobel) awards ceremony date, then I think she could be in a very bad way.”
The last words from Mrs Liu were in the form of a statement, written and delivered to a friend to make public. She invited 143 friends of her husband to attend the ceremony in Oslo on December 10 since neither she nor he would be free to go.
It came after two weeks of almost constant police presence, from the moment Mr Liu was announced as the winner on October 8. In the following days, the authorities escorted Mrs Liu out to the shops to buy food, took her to her parents’ house to eat in the evening and even accompanied her to parks for a stroll. That changed when she was told she would be allowed to stay in Beijing if she agreed to stop communicating with friends and the outside world.
Her last message on Twitter on October 18 read: “It’s me, idiot Liu, there’s no need to worry.”
Her final telephone call to a friend was made using her brother’s mobile on October 20.
For a few days, police allowed her mother to visit her, but insisted on accompanying the elderly woman and remaining present throughout. Mrs Liu became increasingly emotional and angry at the intrusion and police stopped the visits.
Since then, her only contact with the outside world has been a single, daily, police-monitored telephone call with her mother. She has no idea when her detention will end. Even Mr Liu, serving the second year of his jail term, has the company of five cellmates and is allowed out twice a day for exercise.