New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Liu Xia, the widow of the late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, appeared for the first time in public alongside her friend Liao Yiwu at a human rights conference titled ‘The power of the powerless in China’ held two days ago at New York’s Václav Havel Library Foundation.
Liu Xia was able to leave China for Germany on 10 July, after she was held under house arrest for eight years without formal charges. Her husband Liu Xiaobo passed away on 13 July 2017 after he was left to die in prison from liver cancer.
On Wednesday, the poet spoke for a few minutes, uncertain to talk about her late husband and her experience of forced detention.
Liu shared a brief anecdote from the period she spent with her husband shortly before his death in July 2017.
“I got a message from the Kafka office in Prague,” she told the panel, describing her years under house arrest as “more absurd than anything Kafka could have written.”
“One of the questions they asked was whether one day he would return to the public eye, and whether he had the power to rally the public … and I told Xiaobo that I can’t see how that could happen,” she said. “Liu Xiaobo smiled after hearing that,” she added.
Liu Xia did not elaborate but changed the subject by thanking those who supported her and her husband. After this, she fell silent, and her friend, dissident Liao Yiwu, took the floor to recount Liu Xia’s troubles and her husband’s last days.
“Even during Liu Xiaobo’s last minutes, he didn’t have hate in his heart,” he said, adding, “He wanted Liu Xia to leave [China].”
Liu Xia then leaned over to tell Liao, in Chinese, that he should stop speaking about her husband and her experience.
Liao, in exile in Germany since 2011, is a writer and human rights activist, who has criticised mainland China’s regime.
At the conference, he slammed the West for closing its eyes to China’s human rights violations in order to continue doing business with the Asian giant.
Liao had words of gratitude for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Donald Trump’s trade war, which he believes is one of the factors that won Liu Xia’s release and move from China.
Chinese lawyer and dissident Teng Biao was also in the audience. According to him, Beijing continues to exert heavy pressure on Liu Xia even at a great distance by holding her brother Liu Hui hostage.