x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Nobel winner dedicates award to Tianamen victims

Human rights group quotes jailed dissident Liu Xiabo as telling his wife that he was dedicating peace prize to 'lost souls' of Tianamen Square crackdown.

BEIJING // The Chinese Nobel Peace laureate, Liu Xiaobo, has tearfully dedicated his award to victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, activists said, as his wife was held under house arrest today. 

The US-based group Human Rights in China quoted Liu Xiaobo as telling his wife Liu Xia: "This award is for the lost souls of June Fourth," referring to the bloody June 4, 1989 crackdown on democracy protests at the vast Beijing square.

Mr Liu, 54,a writer who was jailed for 11 years last December after authoring a bold petition calling for democratic reforms, was awarded the prize on Friday, sparking a furious reaction from Beijing. Via her Twitter account, Liu Xia said she had been placed under house arrest at her Beijing home both before and after travelling to the prison in northeastern China where her husband is held to inform him of his prize.

"Brothers, I have returned home. On the eighth [of October] they placed me under house arrest. I don't know when I will be able to see anyone," the Sunday night Twitter posting said. "My mobile phone has been broken and I cannot call or receive calls. I saw Xiaobo and told him on the ninth at the prison that he won the prize. I will let you know more later. Everyone, please help me (re)tweet. Thanks," she said.

Liu Xiaobo's wife was taken to the prison under police guard, his lawyers said at the weekend. At least two dozen police, plainclothes officers and other security personnel were seen deployed Monday at the compound where Liu Xia lives, interrogating returning residents and preventing journalists from entering. Calls to her mobile phone were met with a recording saying it was out of service. Liu Xiaobo is the first Chinese citizen to win the Peace Prize issued by the Oslo-based Nobel committee and China immediately criticised the award, calling it "blasphemy", and labelling Mr Liu a "criminal".

It also summoned the Norwegian ambassador to warn him it would damage relations. Mr Liu, a former university professor, helped negotiate the safe exit from Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators before military tanks crushed the six weeks of peaceful protests in the heart of Beijing. He has spent much of the intervening period in jail, under house arrest or other restrictions yet continued to seek the release of those jailed due to the protests.

Mr Liu dedicated the award to Tiananmen victims to honour their "non-violent spirit in giving their lives for peace, freedom, and democracy", Liu Xia was quoted as saying by Human Rights in China. She said her husband was moved to tears as he discussed the subject, according to the group. After Mr Liu was awarded the prize, authorities arranged to take Liu Xia to the prison in Liaoning province where he is serving his sentence, rights activists said. They said she went to the prison on Saturday and returned on Sunday.

Roads to the prison were blocked by police Sunday, an AFP journalist saw, with only officials or residents allowed into a large area around the jail. Police and officials at the roadblock refused to tell journalists why they were not permitted to approach the prison and politely urged them to leave the area. Telephones at the prison went unanswered. Mr Liu is one of three people to have been awarded the prize while being jailed by their own government. The other two are Myanmar's Aung Sang Suu Kyi in 1991 and the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1935.

Leaders around the world including the US president, Barack Obama, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, lauded the 2010 winner and called on the Chinese government to release him immediately.