Liu Xia, who was placed under house arrest in 2010 in China, has been finally allowed to leave China after eight years of captivity. New photos show the woman beaming and happy, a stark contrast to the old photos where she appeared dejected and hopeless.
Liu was never formally charged with any crime, and her supporters have been calling for her release for years but to no avail. Liu is the wife of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese democracy advocate, who died last year while imprisoned. Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “subversion of state power.”
In May, a phone recording between Liu and an exiled Chinese writer in Germany was released, during which Liu said that “It would be easier to die than to live…Nothing would be simpler for me than dying in defiance,” detailed the Inquisitr. The phone call prompted new outrage over Liu’s house arrest, as Liu reportedly required medical attention, and her mental health was worsening.
Thankfully, Chancellor Angela Merkel from Germany decided to vocalize her opposition to Liu’s captivity. Merkel visited Beijing in May, and explicitly raised the controversy surrounding Liu Xia, reported Quartz. And around the time that Liu was released, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was visiting Germany.
Liu has reportedly been allowed to leave for medical reasons and was on a plane headed to Germany, according to the New York Times. There, her supporters hope she can find the medical treatment she needs. Liu’s brother, Liu Hiu, confirmed that Xia had left China, saying that she was going to Europe “to start her new life.” He also said that “from now on, her life is peaceful and happy,” detailed NPR.
Many in China are celebrating, although it appears that people aren’t talking about it too explicitly on social media in order to avoid censorship.
Throughout her house arrest, Liu was never allowed to leave the house. Guards were always at her door and at her gates to her home. No friends, journalist, diplomats, or supporters were allowed in, said the BBC. And although this was common knowledge, the Chinese government routinely denied that Liu was being held captive, and even maintained that she was allowed to leave whenever she pleased.
Her release comes as a huge relief to many, who feared that Liu may die while under house arrest. And this fear was made worse by Liu’s own statements, including one time when she said that “I’ve got nothing to be afraid of… If I can’t leave, I’ll die in my home. Xiaobo is gone, and there’s nothing in the world for me now.”
Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, however, raised one critical point, saying that “it would be most callous of the Chinese authorities to use Liu Xia’s relatives to put pressure on Liu Xia to prevent her from speaking out in future.”