Select this search icon to access the search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Acclaimed Writers and Artists Call on China to Free Poet and Artist Liu Xia

    May 16, 2018


    • Troubling Reports of Liu Xia’s Worsening Health Condition Stir Immediate Action from Artists and Activists

    NEW YORK—Dozens of celebrated writers, poets, and artists have called for the lifting of all restrictions on Chinese poet and artist Liu Xia, held under illegal house arrest without charge since October 2010.

    This show of literary solidarity comes following revelations about Liu Xia’s declining health, which she revealed in April during a harrowing phone conversation with friend and exiled writer Liao Yiwu.

    Rita Dove, Paul Auster, JM Coetzee, Khaled Hosseini, Hu Ping, and Michael Chabon are among the group of writers who have read excerpts of Liu Xia’s poetry as part of a video campaign advocating for her freedom.

    Khaled Hosseini, author of the Kite Runner, said: [I support this campaign for Liu Xia] as artists who are free to speak must do so on behalf of other artists whose voices are being stifled.”

    The excerpts celebrate some of Liu Xia’s most powerful works while calling on the Chinese government to end their cruel campaign of retaliation against her for her late husband Liu Xiaobo’s calls for democratic reform.

    During the phone call with writer and friend Liao Yiwu released on 2 May Liu Xia, who suffers from depression, said she was “prepared to die” under house arrest.

    Suzanne Nossel, PEN America Chief Executive Officer, said: “Liu Xia’s cry for freedom resonates around the world and rebukes the Chinese government’s hollow claim that she is free. 

    “As efforts to allow Liu Xia to travel abroad for medical treatment stall, literary and human rights communities renew and amplify their call to release a poet who has been accused of no crime.

    “We are proud to stand with Liu Xia’s literary peers to celebrate her work, and challenge the Chinese government’s relentless campaign to erase her voice.”

    Lisa Tassi, East Asia Campaigns Director at Amnesty International, said: “The Chinese government’s efforts to silence Liu Xia are despicably cruel. Liu Xia’s poetry inspires so many who are now united in calling for her to be free.”

    Liu Xia has been under illegal house arrest since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. She is still closely monitored by state security agents and can only be reached by her closest friends by phone in limited circumstances.

    She has also been moved from her home in Beijing and held incommunicado for periods of time following the death of Liu Xiaobo in July 2017, with unverified clips appearing periodically on YouTube showing her in various locations in Beijing and Yunnan province.

    Liu Xia is known to be in poor health, and suffers from severe depression, but has been prevented from travelling abroad to seek treatment.  


    Notes to editors

    The embargoed videos are available for media to download here. The videos will be promoted via the artists, Amnesty and PEN America’s social media channels.

    Full list of participating artists: 

    Alec Soth Photographer 

    Alice Sebold Author of Lovely Bones 

    Ayelet Waldman American novelist 

    Chang-Rae Lee Korean-American novelist 

    Daniel York British theatre actor 

    Jason Y. Ng Hong Kong author 

    Jennifer Lim Singaporean-British actress

    JM Coetzee  Nobel Laureate in Literature, author of Disgrace

    Khaled Hosseini Author of Kite Runner  

    Ma Thida Myanmar writer 

    Michael Chabon 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction/ 2008 Hugo Award for Best Novel, author of Wonder Boys

    Naomi Christie British actress

    Nicholas Wong Hong Kong poet 

    Paul Auster American novelist/ Man Booker shortlist, author of New York Trilogy

    Philip Gourevitch

    American writer and journalist

    Rebecca Boey British writer and actress

    Rita Dove American poet, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

    Robert Pinsky American poet 

    Siri Hustvedt American Novelist/ longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and won the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction 

    Siu Hun Li Scottish Actor

    Tammy Ho Hong Kong poet 

    Tina Chang American poet

    Xu Xi Hong Kong-Indonesian novelist 

    徐友漁 Xu Youyu Chinese writer in the US 

    胡平 Hu Ping Chinese writer in the US 

    马建 Ma Jian Chinese-born British writer, author of Red Dust

    Chang Chuan-fen Taiwanese writer, scholar and activist

    Yen Hung-ya (Hung Hung) Taiwanese poet and artist


    For further information please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332