BEIJING — The wife of China's jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner has written an open letter to new Chinese leader Xi Jinping to protest an 11-year prison term given to her brother, the family's lawyer said Friday.
In the letter, Liu Xiaobo's wife Liu Xia said the sentencing was unfair and urged Xi to govern China in a way that respects the rights of individuals and avoids "ruthless suppression based on violence."
The letter was a rare occasion for Liu Xia to express herself at greater length than the few seconds or minutes at a time she has had to speak to reporters and a handful of activists during the past more than two and a half years since she was placed under house arrest in her Beijing apartment.
A Beijing court convicted the brother, Liu Hui, on Sunday of fraud in a real estate dispute in prosecution that the family's supporters have said is meant as further punishment of the Nobel laureate's family and is intended to intimidate other political activists.
Liu Xia said the government's right to rule should be based on its ability to safeguard justice for all. "Any event that denies the rights of the individual can result in tragedy, therefore casting a bleak shadow on the legitimacy of state power," Liu wrote. "I can't imagine that the justice we expect can be achieved if the rights of the accused have been completely ignored."
The letter was handwritten and signed by "citizen Liu Xia." Beijing lawyer Shang Baojun, who represented Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia's brother, confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which he posted online.
Liu Xia, who has been kept under house arrest since her husband won the Nobel prize in 2010, also questioned the legal basis of her own incarceration at home: "Thinking about it over and over again, I realize that in China it's supposed to be some kind of `crime' to be the wife of Liu Xiaobo."
She also touched on the concept of the "Chinese Dream," a political phrase that Xi has espoused in various situations since he came to power, in an apparent bid to tap into middle class aspirations or drum up nationalism.
"Mr. President, the Chinese Dream you mentioned relies on every single citizen realizing it," Liu Xia wrote. "I hope that for individuals like us, the Chinese Dream won't become a `Chinese nightmare'."