Where’s the compassion?

21 Feb

Spouse of jailed Nobel peace prize Laureate hospitalised, amid pleas to allow her overseas medical treatment.

Liu Xiaobo has been called a number of things by the Chinese government, “a common criminal” included, after he “incited subversion of state power” by helping to draft a manifesto calling for huge changes in China’s government, namely the overthrow of the one-party rule, signed by thousands. Infuriating the Chinese government, he has been serving an 11-year prison sentence since 2009, leaving his wife, Liu Xia under strict house arrest.


Liu Xia speaks to visitors at her apartment in Beijing on Dec. 28, 2012.

This treatment has left many outraged, creating backlash in China and across the globe, where there is a very different view of Liu Xiaobo. A literary critic and former professor, he was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2010, “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”. He has the support of hundreds of activists, who recently launched a campaign in his aid, as well as the United States and European Union, who have repeatedly urged China to allow his wife, Liu Xia, to move freely. Such support has only infuriated the Chinese government further, rejecting the criticism as unwanted interference in their politics by foreign powers.

Their handling of the case has renewed the focus on China’s human rights record, particularly in respect to the way in which they have treated Liu Xia through her mental and physical illnesses. Rarely allowed out of her home and almost never permitted visitors, despite not being convicted of any crime, it is unsurprising she suffers from severe depression , heart problems, and other ailments worsened during her time under guard. Ye Du, a writer and friend of the couple, said, “The environment that she’s been placed in, having been put under house arrest for so many years, is the main reason [for her worsening health] and they thought that going overseas was the only way they could fully guarantee she will have good treatment.” However, the option of seeking medical help overseas, possibly in Europe, has been rejected by police. The family were told to seek medical attention in Beijing, which Liu Xia refused, afraid of any further punishment.

Worsening health early in February however, caused her reluctant admittance to a Beijing hospital under heavy police guard, where she was told to leave after a day without reason, according to a close family friend and prominent human rights lawyer, Mo Shaoping. Their refusal to treat her, despite a reported heart attack, has led to renewed pleas of overseas treatment, but this has been rejected once again. She has since been allowed back in to the hospital, where she is receiving treatment, but it has been reported that her health is unlikely to improve, as according to a family friend, Ye Du, she has coronary heart disease.

It is unsurprising this story has received such outrage, globally and from within China itself. Placed under house arrest without any conviction, Liu Xia’s treatment has been appalling, and with her possibly terminal worsening health, it is of the utmost importance that the government ends her house arrest, so she is free to spend time with her family, friends, and husband, whose own treatment has been equally awful. If they do not surrender to such pleas, their human rights record will only be further tarnished.






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