Liu Xiaobo's widow makes first appearance since his funeral

In the video, Ms Liu Xia spoke directly to the camera, saying she was recuperating and asking that she be given time to grieve.
In the video, Ms Liu Xia spoke directly to the camera, saying she was recuperating and asking that she be given time to grieve.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB/YOUTUBE

SHANGHAI • The widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has appeared for the first time since her husband's funeral in an online video in which she said she was recuperating and asked for time to mourn.

Ms Liu Xia had been under effective house arrest since her husband, a prominent dissident since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, won the Nobel prize in 2010.

Mr Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power", after he helped write a petition known as "Charter 08" calling for sweeping political reforms.

He died on July 13 after being denied permission to leave the country for treatment of late-stage liver cancer. Ms Liu had been allowed to visit him in prison about once a month and to remain with him while he was treated in his final days.

But friends of the couple said they have been unable to speak with her since her husband's funeral, after which they say she returned to Beijing and has been staying with a friend.

In a minute-long video posted on YouTube last Friday, Ms Liu speaks directly to the camera while holding a lit cigarette.

She was sitting on a white sofa in front of a pot of tea in what appeared to be the living room of a home.

"I am outside recuperating, everyone please grant me time to mourn, time for my heart to heal and one day I will be able to face you all in a healthy state," she said. It is not clear what she meant by "outside".

"The doctors tried their best when Xiaobo was ill and Xiaobo also viewed life and death very plainly. So I must recalibrate, and in future when I have made improvements in different aspects, I can be with you all again."

Reuters was not able to verify whether she made the comments of her own free will or her location.

The video was uploaded by user "goudan li", who joined YouTube on July 6. Other videos uploaded by the user were ones alleging wrongdoings by fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui. "Goudan li" did not respond to Reuters' messages on the video.

The Chinese authorities have said that Ms Liu was free and have told diplomats who asked about her whereabouts that her lack of communication was due to her desire to mourn in peace.

Before her husband's death, Ms Liu told diplomats and friends that she wished to leave China should her husband be released.

Mr Jared Genser, a human rights lawyer based in the United States who advocated for Mr Liu and his wife, filed a formal complaint on behalf of Ms Liu with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances earlier this month.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 20, 2017, with the headline 'Liu Xiaobo's widow makes first appearance since his funeral'. Print Edition | Subscribe