Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Calls for the release of Liu Ziaobo have been among the first reactions to the decision by the Norwegian Noble Committee to award him with the Nobel Peace Prize. The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Przie laureate in 1989, in a message called on “the government of China to release Mr Liu Xiaobo and other prisoners of conscience who have been imprisoned for exercising their freedom of expression”. Similar requests have come from France and Germany.
"The (German) government would like to see him released soon and receive his prize in person," spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters. "The government has pressed for his release in the past and will continue to do so.”
In France, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also welcomed the news. "France, like the European Union, expressed its concern after his arrest and has called for him to be released on a number of occasions. She repeats that call," he added, in a statement from his office.
More messages of congratulations have come from the European Union, Norway and international associations like Amnesty International.
“The decision of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is a strong message of support to all those around the world who, sometimes with great personal sacrifice, are struggling for freedom and human rights," European Union chief Jose Manuel Barroso said. "These values are at the core of the European Union," Barroso added.
For Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini,the award to Liu Xiaobo also represents the recognition of all those “who struggle for freedom and human rights.”
In a statement, Amnesty International said, “Liu Xiaobo is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, we hope it will keep the spotlight on the struggle for fundamental freedoms and concrete protection of human rights that Liu Xiaobo and many other activists in China are dedicated to”.
For his part, the Dalai Lama said, “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.”
“ 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,” he said.
In fact, “I believe that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s recent comments on freedom of speech being indispensable for any country and people’s wish for democracy and freedom being irresistible are a reflection of the growing yearning for a more open China,” the Tibetan religious leader said. “Such reforms can only lead to a harmonious, stable and prosperous China, which can contribute greatly to a more peaceful world.”
In expressing thanks on behalf of her jailed husband, Liu Xa said, “I am so happy that I don’t know what to say. I want to thank everyone for their support for Liu Xiaobo, the Norwegian Noble Committee, Vaclav Havel, the Dalai Lama and all those who supported him.”