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Human rights activists welcome news of Liu Xia’s release

    July 11, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada, PEN Canada and the Toronto Association for Democracy in China welcome news of Liu Xia’s release from China and commemorate the work of Liu Xiaobo on the first anniversary of his death on July 13, 2017.

    Liu Xia, a poet and artist, has suffered from depression since being placed under house arrest in 2010, after her late husband Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. During that time, she has been surveilled relentlessly, and effectively detained since the death of Liu Xiaobo on July 13, 2017.

    “This is what international pressure can do for human rights,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Thanks to tens of thousands of people who spoke up as part of the ‘Free Liu Xia’ campaign, she has at long last been freed and is now safely in Germany.”

    Liu Xiaobo was a writer, literary critic, human rights activist, and co-author of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform in China. He was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment. 

    China refused to let Liu Xiaobo attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo. Instead, the award was presented to an empty chair. In 2017, Liu became the second Nobel Peace Laureate to die in state custody.

    “Liu Xiaobo’s resistance to China’s growing authoritarianism showed the moral power of principled dissent,” said Brendan de Caires, Executive Director of PEN Canada. “He will forever live in our hearts as a champion of freedom of expression.”

    Amnesty International Canada, PEN Canada and the Toronto Association for Democracy in China announced on May 29, 2018 on the eve of the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre that they would erect a sculpture of the “Empty Chair” to commemorate Liu Xiaobo.  

    “It is important that we remember what Liu Xiaobo has done for human rights for our world,” said Cheuk Kwan, spokesperson for the Toronto Association for Democracy in China. “And we want to memorialize him the best way we can in Canada.”

    Renowned Canadian sculptor Ruth Abernethy - whose works include the Glen Gould statue at CBC in Toronto and Oscar Peterson sculpture at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa - will work on the project.

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