11/03/2017, 12.54
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Writers from around the world urge Beijing to free Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo's widow

Pen America has launched a petition open to all. Addressed to Xi Jinping, the letter appeals to his “conscience” and “sense of compassion". Liu Xia has never been charged with anything, but has been under house arrest and close watch for the past seven years. The letter will be given to President Trump to bring on his upcoming trip to China.

Washington (AsiaNews) – More than 50 internationally celebrated writers have signed a letter addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping asking for the release of Liu Xia, wife of the late Nobel Prize laurate Liu Xiaobo. She has been under house arrest and close monitoring for at least seven years without charges.

Liu Xia, a poet, painter and photographer, has been in isolation since 2010 when her husband, already in jail since the previous year, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

She was able to be with her husband in his last days when he was moved to a hospital in Shenyang. Liu needed treatment for a liver cancer, which prison officials failed to detect in time, perhaps on purpose.

Ms Liu was last seen in public when she took part in a memorial service for her husband, two days after his death. Since then, her friends, journalists and diplomats have not been allowed to meet with her. According to the letter, she is suffering from depression and a heart condition.

The writers who signed the letter belong to Pen America, a group set up to support literature and defend freedom of expression. They include Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Chimamanda Adichie, Louise Erdrich, John Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, Lev Grossman, Khaled Hussein and Tom Stoppard.

In the letter, they call for her release in recognition of China’s international obligations, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which China has signed, as well as its own constitution that guarantees freedom of thought and other rights.

In the letter to Xi Jinping, they write: “We also appeal to your conscience and your sense of compassion. Liu Xia has undergone great suffering for many years, simply for being the wife of a man that China has deemed to be a dissident. She has committed no crime and she has not been charged with any crime.”

Pen America plans to call on US President Donald Trump to bring the letter with him on his state visit to China next week. The group has also opened it up for signature by members of the public.

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