UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Thursday he plans to meet with Chinese officials to push for assurances that the widow of late dissident Liu Xiaobo will be allowed to leave China.
Zeid came under fierce criticism from Beijing for his tribute to the Nobel laureate as a “principled champion” who “was jailed for standing up for his beliefs.”
A veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Liu died on July 13 of liver cancer while in police custody at a hospital in northeast China.
Zeid told reporters that he intends to meet with Chinese officials soon to discuss the fate of his widow, Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010.
“We are now focused on his wife and trying to ensure that she has freedom of movement,” Zeid told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.
“If she wants to leave China, she should be able to leave China.”
The UN human rights commissioner rejected Chinese claims that raising human rights concerns amounted to interference in domestic affairs.
“We hold up a mirror,” he said of his office’s statements on human rights violations worldwide.
Chinese officials have claimed that Liu Xia’s freedom of movement has not been impeded “but the feeling was that she was being restricted,” said Zeid.
“We want to use this moment to assure ourselves that she is able to leave if she wants to.”
The United States and the European Union have also called on the government to free Liu Xia, a poet who has stayed out of politics. She has been under police watch since shortly after her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.