China, on St. Valentine’s Day, activists shave their heads to demand release of Liu Xia
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - At least nine protesters from Hong Kong took part in a "shaving action" (photo), to urge the Chinese government to free Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has been under severe house arrest in conditions akin to a prison.
The protesters in Hong Kong said they shaved their heads on Valentine's Day, also Lunar Lantern Festival (or Chinese Valentine's Day) to express "collective support of Liu Xia and all those who have sacrificed their family's wellbeing and fought for human rights and democracy in China," and wanted them to know that they "have not been forgotten."
Shaved "as Liu Xia's style", under a cold weather were Lee Cheuk-yan, legislator and president of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, Ching Cheong, a political commentator, Leung Yiu-chung, a legislator, and local citizens. The action took place at noon in front of the Time Square, a popular shopping place.
BBC (Chinese) reported that a hospital refused to admit Liu Xia for a medical checkup after Lunar New Year. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/simp/china/2014/02/140214_china_liu_xia_health.shtml)
Hu Jia and Ye Du in mainland China also shaved today, echoing the action in Hong Kong. Their photos are posted on Twitter. Ye Du writes on Twitter, "It's the first time in my life to shave. For Liu Xia." "Liu Xia had heart problem a month ago and is waiting for a medical checkup. She has a fever".
The shaving action in Hong Kong was initiated by a coalition "Liu Xia Concern Group" including the Alliance, Amnesty International Hong Kong, Independent Chinese Pen Centre, International Federation of Journalists, China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, and Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong.
The protesters said they chose Feb. 14 for their protest because "couples and lovers over the world happily get together today" but Liu Xia and other human rights defenders or political dissidents have to be separated from their spouse. Liu Xia is "one of those suffering the most severe monitoring," they said.
Since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010, Liu Xia continues to be closely watched, and followed by public security personnel, even when she visited her parents and her jailed husband. Liu Xia has virtually been cut off from almost anyone outside her family. These days, she cannot even go out just for a stroll.
The Group said they offered their "deep respect for Liu Xia. Her courage and perseverance have been the most powerful condemnation of the Chinese government's violent, barbaric, and suppressive acts of human rights violation."
The Group urged the Chinese government to release Liu Xia from house arrest and restore her personal freedoms and all basic rights; to release Liu Xiaobo and Liu Hui unconditionally and with immediate effect; and to release all human rights defenders and political prisoners.
Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment on 25 December 2009 for his role in drafting "Charter 2008" which expresses the aspirations and pursuit of democracy, freedoms, constitutionalism and social equality in China.