GENEVA (4 July 2018) – UN human rights experts* are deeply concerned over the mental health of human rights defender Liu Xia, and are renewing their call for her release.
Ms. Liu is a poet and artist and the wife of deceased Nobel Peace Prize Liu Xiaobo. She has been arbitrarily held under house arrest since 2010 when her husband was awarded the Prize. In 2011, her detention was deemed arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. She has continued to be detained.
“We are disturbed by reports of the deteriorating health of Liu Xia. She is reportedly physically restricted at an unknown location and suffers from severe psychological distress,” the experts said, referring to several recent audio recordings that were released in May in which she pleads for help.
“We understand her condition has been aggravated by the restrictions placed on her movements, and contact with outsiders, for over seven years, while she has not been accused of any criminal activity, nor charged with any criminal offence.”
In one of the audio recordings, Ms. Liu says she was being held for ‘the crime of loving Liu Xiaobo’. China denies that she is being held against her will. Ms. Liu was last seen in public at her husband’s funeral a year ago, accompanied by the Chinese authorities.
The UN experts urged that immediate and unfettered access be granted to her and that she be freely allowed to seek medical and psychological treatment where ever she wishes to, including outside China.
“We reiterate our call to the Chinese Government to disclose her whereabouts and release her,” said the experts. “If Ms. Liu is free as she is said to be by the authorities, she should be allowed to peacefully to exercise her right to freedom of expression and movement.”
The experts, who had called for the release of her husband, prior to his death in detention last year, continue to be alarmed by the growing trend of deaths in custody in China.
The experts have been in contact with the Chinese Government on regular occasions to raise their concern about Ms. Liu Xia’s situation.
The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.