China’s jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was briefly allowed out of prison last month after his father died, his brother told AFP, in an unusual break in the dissident’s 11-year term.
Liu Xiaoxuan said his elder brother “was sent back home on September 18″ to mark the seventh day after his father’s death — an important day in Chinese culture when families gather to remember the person who died.
The Chinese often hold a person’s funeral three days after their death and normally hold a smaller memorial service on the seventh day after they died.
The news is the first to have emerged from the prison in Jinzhou city in China’s northeastern province of Liaoning where Liu is being held since he was awarded the peace prize last year amid furious protests from Beijing.
The dissident writer, 55, was sentenced to 11 years in jail in December 2009 for “subversion” after co-authoring Charter 08, a bold petition calling for political reform in one-party Communist-ruled China.
Liu Xiaoxuan said that only one brother in the family — Liu Xiaoguang — had been able to accompany Liu Xiaobo out of prison, but declined to comment further.
“It’s not convenient for me to tell you about details of how long Liu Xiaobo stayed at home or what he did,” he said.
But he said he had been able to see the former university professor on Wednesday last week, when he paid him a visit in prison along with his two other brothers.
Liu Xiaoxuan said his elder brother “was looking very well”, adding Liu’s wife Liu Xia, who has effectively been placed under house arrest since her husband was awarded the peace prize, had also been allowed to visit in August.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee sparked fury in Beijing on October 8 last year when it honoured the writer for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.
Liu, who until then was little known abroad, became a global cause celebre overnight as Western nations and rights groups lined up to call for his release.
He is one of only three people to win the Peace Prize while in prison, after 1991 laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar and German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who was in a Nazi jail when he won in 1935.