US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA HAS CALLED FOR THE RELEASE OF THIS YEAR’S NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER – JAILED CHINESE DISSIDENT LIU XIAOBO. OBAMA HAS PRAISED XIAOBO AS AN ELOQUENT AND COURAGEOUS SUPPORTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY. A POET AND LITERATURE PROFESSOR, XIAOBO WAS SENTENCED TO 11 YEARS IN PRISON IN 2009.
HE’S THE CO-AUTHOR OF CHARTER 08, A CALL FOR POLITICAL REFORM AND HUMAN RIGHTS. HE HAD PLAYED A LEADING ROLE IN THE TIANAN-MEN SQUARE STUDENT’S PROTEST OF 1989. LIU XIAOBO WAS AWARDED THE NOBEL, DESPITE CHINA WARNING THE NOBEL COMMITTEE NOT TO GIVE HIM THE PRIZE SAYING IT WILL HARM RELATIONS WITH NORWAY.
Thorbjoern Jagland, the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman, said Liu Xiaobo was a symbol for the fight for human rights in China and the government should expect that its policies face scrutiny.
“China has become a big power in economic terms as well as political terms, and it is normal that big powers should be under criticism,” Jagland said.
Unlike some in China’s highly fractured and persecuted dissident community, the 54-year-old Liu has been an ardent advocate for peaceful, gradual political change, rather than a violent confrontation with the government.
Meanwhile Beijing blasted the Chinese dissident’s Nobel Peace Prize win on Friday, calling the decision to award Liu Xiaobo the honour as a “blasphemy”.
Ma Zhaoxu, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said the award is supposed to be given to those who “promote national harmony, international friendship” and work toward peace.
Liu is serving an 11-year prison term after being sentenced in 2009 for inciting subversion of state power. He is the co-author of Charter 08, a call for political reform and human rights, and was an adviser to the student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Jailed Leader of China Gets Nobel Prize for Peace 2010
“Liu Xiaobo is a convicted criminal sentenced to jail by Chinese justice. His acts are in complete contradiction to the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize,” Ma said.
The selection of Liu was made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, whose president said the dissident won for his “long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”
However, Ma said that while China and Norway have recently had “good relations,” the committee’s decision would harm future dealings between China and Norway.
The Nobel Committee stood by its choice and said it had expected China to react strongly.
“We have a very strong tradition of awarding the prize to human rights activists of many different kinds,” Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute, told CNN.
The institute assists the committee in selecting the prize each year.
Lundestad cited German pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietsky in 1935, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel in 1986, Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991, and Iranian campaigner Shirin Ebadi in 2003 as examples of human rights activists who have won the prize.
“This is a tradition we are very proud of, and this is a tradition for which the Norwegian Nobel Committee has received much applause,” Lundestad said. “We felt that if we were serious about this tradition, we did have to come to terms with the question of China in this perspective, and this is what we then did this year.”
China’s response came in stark contrast to glowing reaction from around the world.
“Awarding the Peace Prize to him is the international community’s recognition of the increasing voices among the Chinese people in pushing China towards political, legal and constitutional reforms,” said the Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989. “I believe in the years ahead, future generations of Chinese will be able to enjoy the fruits of the efforts that the current Chinese citizens are making towards responsible governance.”
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