Widow Of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Says, ‘It Would Be Easier To Die’ As She Suffers 8th Year Of House Arrest

Liu's despair is palpable in the phone recording, as she proclaims that she'd rather die than continue her existence under house arrest by the Chinese government.

Liu Xia's phone call reveals her emotional state.
Kathy Willens / AP Images

Liu's despair is palpable in the phone recording, as she proclaims that she'd rather die than continue her existence under house arrest by the Chinese government.

Recently, an exiled Chinese writer living in Germany named Liao Yiwu recorded a phone call between he and Liu Xia. Liao released the phone recording in hopes that the world takes note of Liu’s plight as she suffers house arrest for the eighth year in a row.

Liu was placed on house arrest in 2010, although she has never been charged with any crime, reported the New York Times and the BBC. However, one can guess why the Chinese government would want to keep Liu under strict surveillance: her late husband was Liu Xiaobo, a known dissident to the government. Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize, but was under government captivity until his dying days, serving an 11-year prison sentence.

For Liu, the house arrest has meant that she never got to speak out against the government for their poor treatment of her late husband, who was belatedly diagnosed with cancer. The only message that Liu was able to get out to the world was through a video message to a friend when she said that the doctors, “Can’t operate, can’t do radiotherapy, can’t do chemotherapy.”

In the recent phone call, Liu said that, “It would be easier to die than to live…Nothing would be simpler for me than dying in defiance.”

For Liao and other supporters of Liu, the answer to her situation is more global pressure to allow Liu to leave China and seek necessary healthcare. Liu already has a destination in mind, as Germany extended an open invitation to Liu to relocate to their country whenever she’d like. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that Liu can leave if she wants, but the reality is that Liu has remained under house arrest and is unable to leave the country.

It appears that Liu’s increasing despair and depression is partially due to having her hopes falsely raised earlier this year. Liu was told that after China abolished presidential term limits, that she would be allowed to finally leave the country. However, there has been no such allowance.

“The German Embassy knows all about my situation, the whole world knows. Why go on writing those things again and again?…I have nowhere to send things, no mobile phone, no computer.”

German officials say that they will continue to pressure the Chinese government into releasing Liu from house arrest. Liu’s supporters say that the only way for her to finally be released is through “public demands,” not through “quiet diplomacy.”

A German writers group asked the mayor of a German town to delay dedicating a giant statue of Karl Marx until Liu is released from house arrest. The statue was a gift from China. The request from the writers group was in vain, however, as the statue was dedicated, though the act was plagued by controversy.