Kerry urges China to release Liu Xiaobo

Dec. 10, 2013 at 12:57 AM   |   0 comments

BEIJING, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- China should release detained Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and end his wife's house arrest, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged.

In a statement noting the fifth year of writer Liu's detention and the "nearly three-year politically motivated house arrest of Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia," Kerry said the United States remains "deeply concerned" about the actions of the Chinese authorities.

Kerry also mentioned the imprisonment of other activists including Xu Zhiyong for peacefully exercising their universal right to freedom of expression.

"We note that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has determined Liu Xiaobo's ongoing imprisonment and Liu Xia's house arrest to be in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Kerry said in his statement.

"We strongly urge Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo, to end Liu Xia's house arrest, and to guarantee to Liu Xiaobo and his family members all internationally recognized human rights protections and freedoms."

Kerry's statement said with the United States building a constructive relationship with China, its leaders "will continue to raise concerns related to respect for the rule of law, human rights, religious freedom, and democratic principles with their Chinese counterparts."

Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist, a writer and a professor who had been pressing for political reforms in China, was named the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2010, but currently remains in a Chinese prison in Jinzhou city in northeastern China's Liaoning province, serving a 11-year prison sentence after being accused of inciting subversion.

His wife, Liu Xia, remains under house arrest although she has not been charged.

Earlier this week, the BBC said Chinese authorities have never explained the house arrest of the wife and that concerns were growing about her health. The report quoted her friends as saying she is depressed and fears she may be sent to a psychiatric hospital if she visits a doctor.

"Liu Xia was a very happy and cheerful person before Liu Xiaobo's arrest," Hu Jia, fellow activist and a family friend, told the BBC. He said three years of house arrest has left her in depression as she is denied free movement and is not allowed to receive visitors.

Xu Zhiyong, mentioned in Kerry's statement, is a civic group activist lawyer. He is one of about 20 members of the group who have been detained since March following a political crackdown.

The Wall Street Journal in a report Monday said Beijing police were asking for the indictment of Xu, alleging he organized, planned and implemented a series of unauthorized demonstrations over a nine-month period that "seriously disturbed public order."

His lawyer was quoted as saying it was highly likely Xu would be sent to trial although he plans to present document to prosecutors against the police recommendation.

"He's innocent. What he did does not meet the standard of a crime," Xu's lawyer told the Journal.

Xu's New Citizens Movement group promotes greater rule of law and transparency and more-equal access to education.

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