Diary entry, June 16, midnight: I first learn that Liu Xiaobo's life is in danger. （中文在後）
The G-20 summit in Hamburg is coming to an end. Xiaobo is dangerously ill but Xi Jinping isn't backing down. I find myself compelled to publish the following diary entry, dated midnight on June 16. ------------------------- While I was still at the Brighton Poetry Festival a few days ago, [Liu Xia's close friend] Zhong sent us a message asking for our home phone number. He said someone from the Liu family wanted to get in touch with me. My wife gave it to him. Two days later, when I returned to Berlin, she told me Zhong had been in touch .
That seemed odd to me. For more than three years, it had always been I who would call Liu Xia or Zhong to see how the Lius were doing. Yesterday I called the Liu household several times but no one answered. So I called Zhong to ask where Liu Xia was. Zhong said she was with her brother Liu Hui. I asked how she was doing and he said he didn't have any news, except that she hadn't been able to get permission to travel.
This afternoon, I called the Lius again and no one answered. Peter Sillem, the Fischer editor, and the author Herta Müller, both called asking for news. I just sat there. Finally, at half past four, I got a call from someone in the Liu family.
-------------------------- You're Liu? Yes. Is something wrong? It's my uncle. He has end-stage liver cancer. I couldn't hear his words clearly, but I was shocked by what I thought I heard: Liu Xia has liver cancer? No no, it's my uncle. It's end-stage. I was quiet for a moment. "Wait, you mean Xiaobo?" Yes. My aunt and father wanted me to tell you right away, but you can't tell anyone else, especially not the press. I won't. Can I attempt to get in touch with German government leaders through special channels -- Angela Merkel, for instance? Yes, that's exactly what they'd like for you to do. That's what Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia want? Yes. I'll need a little more information. Where is Xiaobo now? Is he in the prison hospital? That's where they'd normally put someone who's very ill. Or have they secretly sent him back to Beijing? He's still stuck in the hospital in Shenyang, there's nothing we can do about it. My father had cancer. I know liver cancer is one of the worst and most painful kinds. That's why my uncle and aunt want to go to Germany! As soon as possible! My uncle said, even if he's going to die, he'd rather die in Germany. My eyes filled with tears. My aunt said Xi Jinping is visiting Germany next month. She wants you to get in touch with Angela Merkel on their behalf and urgently seek her help. Ask her to mention this in her meeting with Xi Jinping, get his permission for Liu Xiaobo to leave the country for emergency medical treatment. You once told my aunt that Merkel is the most sympathetic and human of today's politicians, that she helped you and many other refugees at great cost. Can I tell her where this news comes from? Sure. For the past two months, as a result of my aunt's work to get permission [to communicate more with Liu Xiaobo], my uncle has finally gotten up to speed with what's happening with our family, but now he himself is ill. Got it. Please give me your phone number. ------------------------------ I called a German friend right away and told her what had happened before I’d even had a chance to absorb the news myself. She was stunned. She said she would contact the chancellery as soon as possible. She might be able to meet me in Berlin, but she wouldn't be able to get a response the same day. I was about to write a second letter to Angela Merkel, requesting her help. I still hadn't received a response to my first letter and now I would have to write a second.