Tue, Dec 08, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Chinese dissident marks a year in jail without trial

AP , BEIJING

The wife of an outspoken Chinese dissident who has been jailed for a year without charge said yesterday if the government won’t release him she wishes it would put him on trial so she could visit him regularly.

Liu Xia (劉霞) has not seen or spoken to her husband Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) since March when police arranged a short meeting for the couple in a Beijing hotel room.

Police took Liu Xiaobo away on Dec. 8 last year, one day before the publication of a document he co-authored that called for more civil rights in China and an end to the Chinese Communist Party’s political dominance.

About 10,000 people have since signed “Charter 08,” an unusually direct call for a new constitution guaranteeing human rights, the open election of public officials, and freedom of religion and expression. Many Chinese dissidents and intellectuals know about the project but tight media controls and Internet censorship have limited its reach.

Web sites that mention or post the charter are routinely deleted or blocked. The document and international calls for Liu Xiaobo’s release — including an appeal by 150 writers and rights activists including Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer and Wole Soyinka — have not been covered by state media. Human rights groups say people in provinces around the country who signed the statement have been summoned or tailed by police.

Liu Xiaobo, 53, is a former professor who spent 20 months in jail for joining the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square. Credited as the chief architect of the charter, he has been the only one arrested — seen as a move by authorities to scare other signatories into backing off.

He was held at a secret location for six months, then formally arrested in June on suspicion of “inciting to subvert state power” — a loosely defined charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

“Of course, I would like there to be a miracle and to have him come home tomorrow,” said Liu Xia, a rail-thin 48-year-old poet and painter.

She said she was not optimistic that her husband would be released when the investigation is complete, and now wishes that he could be quickly tried.

“For me, I will be less anxious [when he is sentenced] because at least I will be able to see him once a month, to write him letters and bring him books,” she said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top