Nobel winner's brother denied visit

2010-10-19 15:28

Beijing - Chinese authorities refused to allow the brother of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo to visit him in prison in apparent violation of the rules, a Hong Kong-based rights group said on Tuesday.

Liu Xiaoguang demanded the release of the Nobel laureate, while expressing concern over the safety of the peace prize winner who shares a cell with five other inmates, the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

"Liu Xiaoguang told us that his demand for a prison visit in October had been rejected," the centre said in a statement.

The rejection was a violation of regulations at the Jinzhou prison in northeast China's Liaoning province, which allow inmates to receive one visit a month from each of their close relatives, the centre said.

One monthly visit

Liu's wife, Liu Xia, who is currently under house arrest in Beijing, was allowed to visit the writer and political activist on October 10, two days after the Nobel committee awarded him the 2010 prize.

Liu Xiaoguang last visited his brother in July, the centre said, while Liu's 82-year-old father is unable to visit his son for health reasons and will only be able to see him if he is released from prison.

Liu Xiaoguang said his brother should be transferred to a safer prison in Beijing, the centre said, citing routine and often fatal violence in Chinese prisons.

Liu, 54, is the co-author of Charter 08, a petition calling for democratic reforms in one-party China that has been circulated on the internet and signed by thousands. He was jailed last December for 11 years for subversion.

During his wife's prison visit, a tearful Liu said he wished to dedicate the Nobel Peace Prize to the victims of the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen democracy protests.

The former university professor helped negotiate the safe exit from Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators before tanks crushed the six weeks of peaceful protests in the heart of Beijing.

US Attorney General to raise matter

China's communist government has repeatedly lashed out at the award, saying it is disrespectful to the country's judicial system and tantamount to "encouraging crime".

On Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said that "Chinese laws and regulations protect Chinese citizens' lawful rights and interests", when asked to comment on Liu Xia's continued house arrest.

He declined further comment.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he would raise Liu Xiaobo's case during a visit to China this week.

Several of Liu's supporters have disappeared and are believed to have been taken into police custody since the award was announced.