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Liu Xia Is Released, but Repression Continues Unabated

Repression of human rights practitioners continues unabated in China. In the past few months, foreign media have widely reported on the situation of Liu Xia, the widow of late Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. Without having been formally accused of any offence, Liu was placed under house arrest in October 2010. While earlier reports claiming that Chinese officials were preparing to allow Liu to leave the country proved unfounded, diplomatic pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel led to the release of Liu Xia on 10 July, just days before the first anniversary of her husband’s death. On that day, Liu left China on a flight that brought her to Berlin via Helsinki. During her visit to China on 24 May, Merkel also met the wives of two detained lawyers—Li Wenzu, wife of Wang Quanzhang, and Xu Yan, wife of Yu Wensheng. Earlier in April, Li attempted to walk over 100 kilometres from Beijing to Tianjin in search of answers regarding her husband’s whereabouts, as he has been held incommunicado since July 2015. However, her planned 12-day protest march was cut short by Chinese authorities, who placed her under house arrest and later charged her with subversion. In the meantime, Yu fired his defence team, an action that contradicts a pre-recorded video in which he asserted he would never dismiss his lawyers under his own volition. This has raised suspicions that he has been acting under duress. There has also been bad news for Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan activist who campaigned for Tibetan language education and who has been detained since 2016, after appearing in a New York Times video in which he discussed his campaign. At the end of May he was sentenced to five years in jail for ‘inciting separatism’. TS

(Sources: Amnesty International; China Change; The Guardian 1; The Guardian 2; Radio Free Asia 1; Radio Free Asia 2; Radio Free Asia 3; South China Morning Post 1; South China Morning Post 2; South China Morning Post 3)

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