OPINION: Liu Xia's Release Restricted While Brother Remains Detained

OPINION: Liu Xia's Release Restricted While Brother Remains Detained
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG

What you need to know

The widow of the Nobel Peace Prize winner is enduring a new form of mental detention while her brother remains retained.

By Jerome Cohen

Here is an excellent statement by the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Liu Xia’s release. Liu Xia is now physically free but still enslaved mentally since her brother Liu Hui has been intentionally kept hostage. Liu Hui was convicted of fraud in 2013 and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He’s been released under medical parole, a lesser criminal law restraint, which can be revoked by the authorities at any time.

So for Liu Xia her release is a half-way house toward freedom, really a new form of restriction, another ingenious type of detention-equivalent administered by a People's Republic of China that spawns new types of detention almost every day, as the Xinjiang “re-locations” illustrate.

Liu Xia’s restricted release is certainly a case of China responding to outside pressures – enormous pressures of various types including those generated by human rights groups. The PRC, like the rest of us, tries to turn a vice into a virtue and make the best of a difficult situation.

They still have Liu Xia’s brother to trade and what about the missing human rights lawyers and the hundreds of thousands lawlessly locked up in Xinjiang? There’s a lot of material to work with any time they feel the need to get better press by releasing some people without actually reducing their repression.

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This article was first published on the blog of Jerome A. Cohen here, which covers recent developments on the rule of law in Asia and China. The News Lens has been authorized to republish this article.


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