Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize
Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 8th October, 2010
The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee has awarded this year’s Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in a move that will infuriate the government in Beijing. Mr Liu is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for his non-violent political activities, which include being a member of Charter 08, a group of brave campaigners for the respect for human rights and the rule of law in China. Freedom of expression and association are in principle guaranteed by Article 35 of China’s Communist constitution, but are in fact routinely violated by the authorities. As the Nobel Committee pointed out in its citation for Liu Xiaobo’s award, China has made huge advances economically over recent years, lifting hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty. But that achievement has not been matched on the political front, as anyone demonstrating in favour of free speech and real democracy tends to get squashed quickly, accused of anti-State activities. The Committe stresses that human rights and Peace are inextricably linked. Liu Xiaobo is an academic who has lectured abroad as well as in China. He cut his political teeth during the po-democracy movement of 1989 — which was brutally cut short by the Tiananmen Square massacre — and his case has been taken up by a wide range of writers, including the Czech playwright and former President Vaclav Havel and International PEN. He well deserves the prize, which will add to the international pressure for his release. By awarding the 2010 Prize to him, the Nobel Committee has restored its reputation after last year’s misjudged decision to give the distinction to US President Barack Obama — a decision I described at the time as premature and actually counter-productive.