The Shameful Case of Liu Xiaobo
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 27th December, 2009
Shameless governments have a habit of doing nasty things over Christmas, when they hope most of the world’s journalists aren’t looking — or are on holiday. Think the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead and now China’s disgraceful sentencing of the dissident writer Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison for his political and human rights activities. Perhaps best known abroad as the founder of Charter 08, the Chinese group calling for constitutional reform, Mr Liu has been a sturdy champion of fundamental rights since he took part in the quashed 1989 pro-democracy movement. His jailing, for an unusually long time, is a moral outrage which should be protested most strongly by all decent politicians and NGOs around the world. The writers’ organisation PEN, to which I belong, has taken up his case, but there needs to be a concert of protests, as well as the granting of appropriate awards and prizes to Liu Xiaobo to show the Chinese Communists that to most right-thinking people in the world, he is a brave hero, not a subversive. I shall be writing to the Chinese Ambassador in London about the case and urge others to do likewise. So far, the official Chinese response to protests has been to accuse those making them of ‘gross interference in China’s internal affairs’, but Beijing does not seem to realise the implications of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which it is a signatory, or that the nations of the world have a duty, as well as a right, to stand up and shout when a country persecutes those who exercise their freedom of expressio9n.