Nobel Prize winner's family denied visits
Jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo - accused of being a 'black hand' in the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement 22 years ago - has not been allowed to see his family for nearly eight months, raising concerns that he is being denied his basic rights in retaliation for winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
His wife, Liu Xia, last visited him in prison in Liaoning on October 10 - two days after the announcement that he had won the Nobel prize. She has been under house arrest since, with her mobile phone disconnected and visitors barred from seeing her.
She appears to have been cut off from the internet after her last Twitter message on October 18.
Liu Xiaobo's two brothers have not been allowed to visit him since August, they said.
'I fear it is not possible to see him,' said Liu Xiaoxuan . 'We have not been able to see him after the award.'
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy cited his other brother, Liu Xiaoguang, as saying that he had applied many times to visit his brother, but had been ignored. The family has not received letters from him since October and is worried about the health of Liu Xiaobo, who suffers from a chronic stomach ulcer.
He said Liu Xia was only allowed out once a week to see her parents for two hours, accompanied by police, and was not allowed to phone anyone apart from them.
Phone calls to the Jinzhou prison went unanswered yesterday.
Rights groups accused the authorities of violating Liu's basic rights by denying him the standard once-a-month family visits and the privilege of writing to relatives.
'It seems clearly linked to the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize,' said Joshua Rosenzweig, senior research manager for human rights group the Dui Hua Foundation. 'It raises the question of Liu Xiaobo being punished under prison disciplinary measures for having won the Nobel Peace Prize.'
The information centre said Liu's wife should not be held incommunicado. 'She has the freedom to visit people, go out and communicate with others on the phone, but she has been stripped of those rights with no legal grounds,' the centre said.
Rosenzweig said the restriction of Liu Xia's movement was 'a blatant disregard for the protections that exist in Chinese law'.
Liu Xiaobo, 55, was jailed for 11 years in December 2009 on subversion charges for co-drafting Charter 08, a manifesto calling for sweeping reforms. A staunch government critic, he was accused of being a 'black hand' in inciting the Tiananmen protests.
The Nobel Committee said Liu received the prize for 'his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights'.