12/28/2010, 00.00
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Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo celebrates 55th birthday in prison

Chinese police has barred his family from seeing him since16 December. Chinese Human Rights Defenders appeal for his release and that of his wife, who has been under house arrest for months without charges or trial.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Jailed 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo marked his 55th birthday on Tuesday in a prison in Jinzhou (Liaoning). Despite calls for his immediate release by the international community, Chinese authorities have shown no inclination to let him go. Since 16 December, the dissident has been denied the right to see relatives even though Chinese law guarantees inmates a monthly visit.

In a statement released this morning, the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said it wanted to “take this opportunity to wish Liu Xiaobo a happy birthday and to once again call for his immediate and unconditional release".

CHRD activists also said that they were concerned about Liu Xia, the Nobel Prize winner’s wife, who has been under house in her Beijing home for months. “There is absolutely no legal basis for any of the measures taken against her by Beijing officials,” the group said. In fact, “CHRD is concerned that Liu Xia may continue to face illegal house arrest for an extended period of time, and we reiterate our call for an immediate end to her persecution.”

Her lawyer Shang Baojun said she is doing well but has been unable to talk to her for the past week.

In the meantime, the CHRD announced that Li Jinping was arrested. The former official turned activist is linked to disgraced party chief Zhao Zyang. For the past month, he has been held in Chaoyang District Mental Health Centre in Beijing.  

News about Li’s situation came from his younger brother who tried to visit him on 24 December after learning of his whereabouts.

The brother said he was rebuffed by the hospital, learning later that the National Security police had instructed staff at the mental health centre not to reveal any information about Li’s health to anyone. Details of Li's detention and present condition remain known.

Li was detained on numerous occasions over the years as a result of his advocacy on behalf of former Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, the only top party leader opposed to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. He died in 2005 under house arrest.

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