Over 100 Nobel laureates demand freedom for Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia
Beijing (AsiaNews) - More than 100 Nobel laureates are calling on the new leadership of China to release the writer and Noble Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo from prison and his wife Liu Xia from house arrest.
The call is an open letter addressed to Xi Jinping, who becomes president in March next year and is signed by 134 Nobel Laureates in literature, chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and peace.
Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2010, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" after he helped in the drafting of Charter 08 and published some articles on the web about democracy. His wife is under house arrest with no conviction and often denied the right to visit her husband.
"No government - the letter says - can restrict freedom of thought and association without having a negative effect on...important human innovation."
"The distinguishing feature which led to our recognition as Nobel Laureates is that we have embraced the power of our intellectual freedom and creative inspiration to do our part to advance the human condition. "
The letter is part of an international campaign for the release of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine Sir Richard Roberts. The signatories of the letter included the Dalai Lama, Mario Vargas Llosa and Toni Morrison.
In a statement issued along with the letter, Tutu explains: "Our effort is not to embarrass China but rather to implore the government to take a different approach that would help China develop in the best way for all its people."
Sir Richard Roberts adds: "By releasing Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, China can demonstrate its strength."
The letter recalls with gratitude that the outgoing president, Hu Jintao has recently stressed that China must address some issues regarding human rights. "We hope - said the letter - that China's new political leadership will move past merely recognizing the problem and seize this important opportunity to take concrete steps towards embracing the fundamental rights of all Chinese citizens."
Liu Xiaobo is one of the most enlightened minds of contemporary China. When he was nominated for the Nobel prize, Liu had already been in prison for two years (since December 2008). At the ceremony to receive the award, December 10, 2010, there was an empty chair (see photo). The Chinese government had warned, dissidents and friends of the family of Liu, against going to Oslo, refusing to issue passports and promising economic reprisals on Norway.
Asked by Radio Free Asia, the dissident Hu Jia said he was excited to know that so many influential people have signed the letter. But he added that perhaps this will not be enough to release Liu and his wife. "The Chinese government - he notes - will ignore or drag its feet on anything that doesn't constitute a security threat."
Hu, also sentenced to three and a half years for posting articles on the internet, during the 18th Communist Party Congress, held in November, was forced to travel far from Beijing, while his family was under house arrest in the capital.
But he has called on governments and human rights groups, Chinese at home and abroad to support freedom of speech and join in demanding freedom for Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia.