10/08/2010, 00.00
CHINA – NORWAY

Nobel Prize goes to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

The scholar, author and first signatory of Chart 08, was awarded the prize because of his long-standing non-violent struggle for democracy and peace. For Beijing, it is an “obscenity”.

Oslo (AsiaNews) – The Norwegian Nobel Committee named Liu Xiaobo the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Liu is a university professor and a dissident currently serving an 11-year sentence for co-authoring Charter 08. The prize was awarded because of his long-standing non-violent struggle for democracy and peace.

In its press release, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said that it “has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace. Such rights are a prerequisite for the ‘fraternity between nations’ of which Alfred Nobel wrote in his will.”

“Over the past decades, China has achieved economic advances to which history can hardly show any equal,” the statement said. “The country now has the world's second largest economy; hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty.  Scope for political participation has also broadened.”

However, for the Committee’s members, “China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights. Article 35 of China's constitution lays down that ‘Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration’. In practice, these freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China's citizens.”

In their first reaction to the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision, Chinese authorities have called the Nobel Peace Prize award an "obscenity”.

In fact in recent days, China has threatened Norway that the award would damage Sino-Norwegian relations. When the announcement was made, live broadcast of the BBC and CNN were cut in the mainland.

When news spread of the award, journalists and cameramen gathered in front of his house. Police soon visited the Nobel Prize laureate’s residence as well. Quickly, images were twitted around the world.

Although police prevented Liu’s wife, Xa, from speaking to the press, Ming Pao, a Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper, quoted her as saying, “This prize is recognition of my husband’s work for human rights in our country.”

For more than two decades, Liu Xiaobo fought for fundamental human rights in China. In 1989, he joined the protest movement in Tiananmen Square. Almost 20 years later, he was one of the main promoters of Charter 08, a manifesto in favour of human rights in China issued on 10 December2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.

The following year, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years without political rights for “inciting subversion against the state”.

For Liu, his conviction violates the Chinese constitution as well as fundamental human rights.

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