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Human rights in China

Liu Xiaobo reunited with family outside jail for first time in 8 years, says friend

Wife and brother visited Nobel Peace Prize winner in hospital, close friend says, as US politicians call for him to be treated for terminal liver cancer in the United States

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2017, 12:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2017, 2:18am

Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who was released from a Chinese jail on medical parole last month after a terminal cancer diagnosis, has been reunited with his family members outside prison for the first time in eight years, the South China Morning Post has learned.

Meanwhile, US politicians want Liu, a political activist who was jailed for 11 years on subversion charges, to be allowed to fly to America for treatment – a request his wife Liu Xia was said to have been pushing for.

Ye Du, a Guangzhou-based pro-democracy activist, said Liu was visited by his wife and younger brother Liu Xiaoxuan a week ago in the Shenyang hospital in Liaoning province where he is receiving treatment for liver cancer.

The family told Ye, a close friend of Liu Xiaobo, that they were under “intense pressure”.

“Everyone is being closely monitored and they’ve been ordered to keep quiet by the authorities as of today,” Ye said.

“All of his friends want to see him get the best medical care possible, preferably overseas. We all clearly know he is not going to get effective treatment here in China,” Ye said. “But it depends on his own will and whether Beijing will allow it. Judging on the current trend, it’s quite unlikely for that to happen,” he added.

“His condition is very severe, and targeted therapy is unlikely to work for him. His best chance is probably getting a liver transplant but we can’t see that happening in China.”

US members of a congressional commission on China have urged President Donald Trump to intercede so that Liu can receive care in the United States.

But a short video released by Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, appears to suggest that any kind of treatment for her husband’s terminal illness is futile.

An emotional Liu says in the 10-second video circulated on Twitter: “He cannot have surgery. No radiotherapy. No chemotherapy.”

Calls for full release as Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo battles cancer

Liu, who has been under house arrest in Beijing, could not be reached for comment on the video, but Ye, who was among the first to upload the footage, confirmed it was authentic.

“This was taken very recently, only in the last two days,” Ye told the Post. “The one who took the video does not want to speak to the media at this stage.”

Ye said in his Twitter post that Liu’s cancer was spreading.

Liao Yiwu, a dissident based in Germany who has had direct contact with Liu Xia, said she had been asking the authorities since May to allow Liu Xiaobo to go overseas for cancer treatment.

Liu Xiaobo was jailed in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as Charter 08, calling for sweeping political reforms in China.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize while in jail a year later and was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo.

The Liaoning Prison Administration Bureau announced on Monday that Liu had been granted medical parole after he was diagnosed with liver cancer.

A statement released by Marco Rubio, the chairman of the US congressional executive commission on China, said: “I urge President Trump to seek Liu’s immediate humanitarian transfer to the United States.”

Chris Smith, co-chairman of the commission, said Liu’s wife should also be allowed to come to the United States.

Who is Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and what’s his story?

Liu has been admitted to the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang.

A team of eight cancer experts has been assigned to treat him, the prison authority said.

His lawyers and friends, however, said the 61-year-old’s cancer has entered a terminal stage and criticised the authorities for not granting him a parole earlier.

Rubio said in his statement: “While we are pleased Liu is no longer behind bars, this is hardly an act of mercy on the part of the Chinese government.

“How long have the Chinese authorities known of his grave health condition? What are the terms of his medical parole? Will his wife, Liu Xia, be able to permanently oversee his care?”

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Beijing said they were working to gather more information about Liu’s legal and medical status.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr Liu but also to allow his wife Ms Liu Xia out of house arrest,” the spokesman said.

He said Beijing should provide the couple with freedom of movement and access to medical care of Liu’s choosing.

They were entitled this “under the Chinese constitution and legal system and international commitments”, he said.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse