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Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned in 2008 for “inciting subversion” against the motherland. His wife has been under house arrest since 2010. Now the UN has declared their arrests illegal.

By **Rebecca Bates**

rsz_bates.jpgMonday, the UN finally got around to demanding the release of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia (sure it’s been two and a half years since the former’s arrest, but who’s counting?).

Dr. Liu, a literary critic and writer, has been a key player in the Chinese human rights movement for decades. In 1989, Liu was living and teaching in New York when he caught wind of the growing student protests and promptly returned to Beijing out of solidarity (coincidentally, he also acted as a mentor to Guernica friend Wuer Kaixi).

Dr. Liu was imprisoned for the fourth time in 2008 for “inciting subversion” against the motherland (ok, for organizing the “08 Charter,” which demanded, among many things, freedom of expression), and his wife was put under house arrest last year to prevent her from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on his behalf.

Yesterday, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention argued that China has “not shown in this case a justification for the interference with Mr. Liu Xiaobo’s political free speech.” The Working Group also stated that Liu Xia, who has not formally been charged with anything since her detention last October, “has the right to be brought promptly before a judge, and the right to legal counsel.”

Jared Genser, lead counsel for Dr. Liu and his wife had this to say: “[T]his is a critical affirmation from the United Nations that the Chinese government’s detention of Dr. Liu and Li Xia are in flagrant violation of international law… We call on the Chinese government today for Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia’s immediate release.” I’m still waiting.


  Imprisioned Writer and Activist Liu Xiaobo Recieves Nobel Peace Prize: On the occasion of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize, a video of Liu discussing freedom of expression in China. More
  Rebecca Bates: Q&A with Wuer Kaixi: Wuer Kaixi became known the world over as the student who scolded Premier Li Peng while wearing a hospital gown in Tiananmen Square. Here, he speaks about the Chinese government’s treatment of Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize and the international community’s relationship with China. More
  A Lousy Deal : On the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square, Wuer Kaixi discusses life in exile, guilt over the students’ deaths, and how his movement was a mere first step toward greater political freedom in China. More
  Nixon’s Nose: In Maoist China, a political prisoner feels his way through a Kafkaesque tableau of rumors, betrayal, interrogation, and execution. More


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