China criticised over house arrest

Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo, calls government's decision "illegal" and "very hard to take".

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    Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan has been trying to reach Liu Xia in Beijing, but has been blocked by authorities

    The wife of Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese Nobel Peace laureate, has criticised the government for keeping her under "illegal house arrest".

    Liu Xia has been largely confined to her home in Beijing since Friday when the Nobel Committee in Oslo awarded this year's prize to her dissident husband for advocating political reform and respect for human rights in one-party China.

    "I strongly protest against the government for my illegal house arrest," Liu Xia said on her Twitter account, calling her situation "very hard to take".

    The US and the European Union have both urged Beijing to let her move freely again, on top of their calls for Liu to be released from prison after he was sentenced last December to 11 years on subversion charges.

    China, meanwhile, has reacted with fury to the award, directing the brunt of its anger at Oslo by cancelling ministerial meetings and a Norwegian musical scheduled to be staged in the country next month.

    Communication blocked

    Liu Xia has said she hopes to travel to Norway to accept the award for her husband, who co-authored "Charter 08", a bold call for political reform.

    "I had the phone for only a day and already it has been cut off by the hoodlums," she said.

    She had been communicating via Twitter which was blocked in China and only available by proxy. Her cellphone was cut off earlier in the week and a replacement phone has now also been cut off, she said in a tweet late on Tuesday.

    In her latest tweet, she said her confinement was taking a toll on her family.

    "My elderly 77-year-old mother came over to see me today because I did not phone my family yesterday. (They're) concerned."

    One of her husband's lawyers said Wednesday they also had no way of reaching her.

    "We can't contact her at the moment. We are just waiting and hopefully we can find a way to get in touch soon," Shang Baojun said. On Tuesday he said that Liu Xia wanted to ask a higher court for a retrial of her husband.

    Beijing police declined to comment on the situation when contacted by reporters.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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