The widow of late Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo has resurfaced in an online video, weeks after her friends raised concerns about her fate at the hands of the authorities following her husband’s funeral.
Liu Xia was last seen in government-released images of her dissident husband’s sea burial on July 15, and China has been under international pressure to free her and let her travel abroad.
Liu Xia, 56, has been under de facto house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, despite having never been charged with a crime.
“I am recovering in a province outside of Beijing. I ask you to give me time to mourn,” said Liu in the minute-long video posted Friday on YouTube, a website blocked in Communist-ruled China.
Dressed in a black t-shirt and black trousers, Liu Xia was sitting on a sofa next to a coffee table while holding a lit cigarette.
“I will see you one day in top form. While Xiaobo was sick, he also looked at life and death with some distance, so I also have to readjust. I will be with you again when my situation generally improves,” she said.
The name of the film-maker, as well as the place and date of filming, were not specified.
But it would be unusual for the video to be released without the knowledge of the authorities. Plainclothes security agents guard her Beijing apartment.
“It is certain that she was forced by the authorities to make this video,” Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident and friend of the couple, told AFP on Saturday.
“How can anyone who does not even enjoy freedom express her will freely?” Hu said.
Her lawyer, who has filed a complaint to the United Nations, has accused the Chinese government of her “enforced disappearance”.
The government had already refused to release Liu Xiaobo — who was detained in 2008 — before he died of cancer while in custody at a hospital on July 13 aged 61.
Beijing faced a global backlash for its treatment of Liu Xiaobo, who became the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1938.
A veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, he was sentenced to 11 years in jail in 2009 for “subversion” after pushing for democratic reforms.
Following his terminal cancer diagnosis, Liu had requested to receive treatment abroad — a wish that friends believe was in reality for his wife’s sake. But the authorities refused to let him go.
His death in custody triggered rage and frustration among the dissident community and an outpouring of grief in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, where pro-democracy forces must also contend with an increasingly assertive Beijing.