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Video depicts Chinese Nobel laureate's wife under house arrest

(RSF/IFEX) - 12 October 2012 - Reporters Without Borders is releasing an exclusive video showing the artist Liu Xia under house arrest. The wife of China's jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, she has been subjected to house arrest since October 2010. She is being denied basic freedoms although never convicted by any court.

"The hounding of Liu Xiaobo's family, especially Liu Xia, must stop at once," Reporters Without Borders said. "The surveillance to which she is being subjected is not only unacceptable but also completely illegal. Liu Xia is the victim of psychological harassment for the sole reason that she is Liu Xiaobo's wife. We demand the immediate end to this undeclared imprisonment.

"The video of Liu Xia that we are releasing today is very short and lacks detail, but is very symbolic. Smoking a cigarette at her window is one of the few freedoms left to her. The difficulty of obtaining this footage is also indicative of the isolation imposed on her and the danger to which anyone trying to approach her home is exposed.

"We continue to demand Liu Xiaobo's immediate release. His detention constitutes a grave human rights violation with regard to international standards and, in particular, article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Chinese government has ratified."

The authorities have stepped up harassment of Liu Xia in recent months. According to the BBC, two policemen are living full-time at her home while others, in plain clothes, keep a constant watch on the outside of her apartment building. She is only allowed contact with her mother and a few friends. Her movements outside the apartment are very limited and closely watched.

Winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his defence of human rights in China, the writer Liu Xiaobo continues to be held in Jinzhou prison in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where he has limited contact with his family, although the regulations provide for frequent visits.

Only three people are allowed to visit him: Liu Xia, who is allowed to visit him every two or three months, and his two brothers, who are able to travel to Jinzhou twice a year.

With few exceptions, Liu Xiaobo is permitted only one visitor at a time. These visits have to be scheduled well in advance and are subject to surveillance from beginning to end. The prison authorities control the subject of his conversations with his visitors and ensure that he is given no information from the outside world.

As a member of the Liu Xiaobo Support Committee, Reporters Without Borders is also relaying the press release that the committee issued in advance of the announcement of the winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.

Soon after the release of the video, dissident Hu Jia, also under house arrest, sent a message to Reporters Without Borders:

"Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia are my friends. Both Liu Xiaobo and I have been convicted and jailed by the Communist Party on a charge of "inciting subversion of the state's authority." Liu Xia has been kept in isolation illegally for the past two years. My wife, Zeng Jinyan, experienced the same fate. We fully understand what Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia are suffering," Hu Jia said.

"By jailing the Nobel peace laureate and by placing his wife under house arrest, turning her into a political prisoner, the Chinese Communist Party is violating human rights. These actions are a source of shame for China."

"As a Chinese citizen, I have a duty to help Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia to break their chains, I have a duty to fight for their freedom. In the past month, I have seen Liu Xia's solitude and powerlessness even more clearly. I hereby call on the international community and the Chinese public to ensure that Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia are freed. Let us all speak out together to put pressure on the dictators," concluded the dissident.

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