First public appearance for Liu Xia, Chinese Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo's widow

Liu Xia takes part in a panel discussion held at Bohemian National Hall, Columbia University, in Manhattan, New York, on Sept 26, 2018.
Liu Xia takes part in a panel discussion held at Bohemian National Hall, Columbia University, in Manhattan, New York, on Sept 26, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The widow of Nobel Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo on Wednesday (Sept 26) made her first public appearance since leaving China more than two months ago, discreetly attending a panel discussion in New York.

To applause, the poet Liu Xia arrived at the premises of Manhattan's Vaclav Havel Library Foundation in jeans and sneakers to accept the 2018 Award for a Courageous Writer at Risk.

She had arrived in Germany in July after being released from years of de facto house arrest in China. Despite facing no charges, she had endured heavy restrictions on her movements since 2010, when her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize - an award that infuriated Beijing.

Mr Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, died last year of liver cancer while serving an 11-year sentence for "subversion".

Said Ms Liu in New York, through an interpreter: "I just want to use the opportunity to thank the Vaclav Havel foundation for inviting me and thanking his supporters for working so hard."

She gave no details of her journey, which followed brief stays in Prague and the Netherlands.

A spokesman for the foundation, Ms Jacquelyn de Villiers, said the trip slated to go through Oct 5 was confirmed last minute, citing visa reasons.