World Poetry Day: show your support for Liu Xia

We saw it
A little reflection left on the glass
It had been printed there for a long time without leaving…

Every year on July 15 of the lunar calendar
The river would be covered with water lanterns
But they could not call back your soul…
The train heading for the concentration camp
Sobbingly ran over my body
But I could not hold your hand…

– One Bird after Another, translated by Yu Zhang, edited by Bonny Cassidy

Liu Xia is a Chinese is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. She has been held in her Beijing apartment without access to phones, Internet, doctors of her choice, or visitors since her husband, imprisoned poet Liu Xiaobo, was named Nobel Peace Laureate in October 2010. There are reports that Liu Xia’s mental and physical health are suffering due to her detention.

In January 2014 Liu Xia was rushed to hospital in Beijing after suffering myocardial ischemia (lack of blood flow to the heart). She returned for further tests on 8 February 2014 but was discharged the following day and is said to be in need of specialist medical care. Her phone line was reconnected after her initial hospitalisation to enable her to call for help in case of emergency. Liu reportedly sought permission to leave China to seek medical help abroad following the incident, however, the request was denied.

PEN believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity.

English PEN will be continuing to campaign for Liu Xia throughout 2016. She is among the international writers to be featured at the inaugural English PEN Modern Literature Festival in April 2016, for which she has been paired with Lucy Harvest Clarke. She will also be among the poets highlighted as part of our Poetry as Protest initiative with Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2016.


Social media

Share information on Liu Xia’s case and examples of her writing with friends and colleagues on social media. #FreeLiuXia

Send messages of support

If you would be interested in writing to Liu Xia please email for more details

Write to the Chinese authorities

Please send appeals:

  • Send appeals to the Chinese authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release from house arrest of the poet and artist Liu Xia, and calling for all restrictions on her freedom of movement to be lifted.
  • Urging the authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides for freedom of legitimate expression and freedom of movement, and reminding them that as a signatory to the ICCPR China is obliged to ‘refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose.’

Appeals to:

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025

PEN strongly recommends that you also send or, if possible, personally deliver the appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it to the Chinese authorities and welcoming any comments. You can find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country here.

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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