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The Long Human-Rights March

Amid many disheartening developments for democracy and the rule of law worldwide, a glimmer of joy recently shone through the gloom. The Chinese poet Liu Xia – the 57-year old widow of the renowned human-rights activist and political dissident Liu Xiaobo – has made it to Europe.

NEW YORK – There has been a lot of bad news lately on the human-rights front. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has resumed air strikes on his people, killing opposition fighters and civilians alike. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party continues to make headway in its quest to destroy judicial independence. The United States Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which prevents immigrants, refugees, and visa holders from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen from entering the country.

But a glimmer of joy recently showed through the gloom of these and other disheartening developments: the Chinese poet Liu Xia – the 57-year old widow of the renowned human-rights activist and political dissident Liu Xiaobo – has made it to Europe.

Liu’s husband, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died of liver cancer last year, nearly eight years into an 11-year prison sentence in China for drafting a petition demanding democracy and respect for human rights. When he was awarded the Nobel in 2010, the Chinese authorities barred his family from travelling to Oslo to accept the prize, placed his wife under house arrest, and allowed her little contact with her husband. The Chinese government continued to monitor and restrict her movements closely, even after his death.

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