Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo, perhaps China's best known human rights activist and democracy advocate, has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Committee announced early this morning. The official citation says the prize is "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China."

Xiabo, (pronounced SHAo-bo) fifty four, has been incarcerated by the Chinese government since last December, on charges of "spreading a message to subvert the country and authority." Prior to his arrest at the end of 2009, he had previously been imprisoned three times on similarly baseless charges.

Human rights activists and peace advocacy organizations around the world applauded the award and called for Liu's release.

"Liu Xiaobo is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, we hope it will keep the spotlight on the struggle for fundamental freedoms and concrete protection of human rights that Liu Xiaobo and many other activists in China are dedicated to," said Catherine Baber, Deputy Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

"This award can only make a real difference if it prompts more international pressure on China to release Liu, along with the numerous other prisoners of conscience languishing in Chinese jails for exercising their right to freedom of expression."

"This award will no doubt infuriate the Chinese government by putting its human rights record squarely back into the international debate," observed Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "But this Nobel Prize honors not only Liu's unflinching advocacy; it honors all those in China who struggle daily to make the government more accountable."

President Obama added his voice to those calling for Liu's release in an official statement released by the White House, which is not likely to be well received by the Communist oligarchy in China. The statement is as follows:
I welcome the Nobel Committee's decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Liu Xiaobo. Last year, I noted that so many others who have received the award had sacrificed so much more than I. That list now includes Mr. Liu, who has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs. By granting the prize to Mr. Liu, the Nobel Committee has chosen someone who has been an eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through peaceful and non-violent means, including his support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

As I said last year in Oslo, even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal to all human beings. Over the last 30 years, China has made dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. But this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected. We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible.
Well said, Mr. President. We too congratulate Liu Xiabo and urge his immediate release. China has nothing to gain from locking up liberty-loving citizens.

As Human Rights Watch put it: "The Chinese government should see Liu Xiaobo as the Nobel Committee clearly does: not as an enemy or an embarrassment, but rather as someone whose courageous advocacy embodies the best of China."


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