Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Charter 08’

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.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »