News / Asia

Nobel Prize Winner Veteran of Long Campaign for Political Reform

Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland holds up a photograph of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, 08 Oct. 2010
Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland holds up a photograph of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, 08 Oct. 2010

Liu Xiaobo is a 54-year-old writer and veteran of pro-democracy campaigns in China. Liu has been in and out of Chinese prisons over the past two decades because of his outspoken advocacy of human rights and political reform.

Convicted of subversion

The newest Nobel Peace laureate, Liu Xiaobo, is not likely to be able to accept his prize in person – he is serving an 11-year sentence in a Chinese prison.

CHINESE REACTION

VOA Beijing - Stephanie Ho

  • "Inside China... the government has been making an effort, apparently, to have a total news blackout on the fact that he's been awarded a Nobel prize. I mean, China would like to win a Nobel, but the thought of awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident who is in jail is not something that the Chinese government would want to make public. So there's been no news announcement on TV. In fact, when the international news channels tried to make an announcement, the Chinese apparently tried to pull the plug. My TV has been cut off quite a few times whenever the announcement comes up."

Chinese authorities last December convicted Liu of subversion, but gave no details of which Chinese laws he violated. He was detained a year before that, in December 2008, shortly before the publication of Charter 08 – a manifesto he helped draft that calls for sweeping political reforms.

One of the original Charter 08 signers was 77-year-old Bao Tong, who says he thinks a Nobel Prize for Liu is a great thing for China.

Bao says through Charter 08, Liu is calling on the government to be responsible to the country's Constitution and to be accountable to Chinese people. He describes this effort as a contribution to world peace.

Bao is the highest ranking Chinese official to have served time in jail following the bloody government crackdown on demonstrators near Tiananmen Square in 1989.

In and out of prison over two decades

Liu also spent time in prison for his involvement in the 1989 protests. He was jailed again later for writings that questioned China's single-party political system.

Wife humbled by Nobel decision

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (L) with his wife Liu Xia (file photo – 22 Oct. 2002)
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (L) with his wife Liu Xia (file photo – 22 Oct. 2002)

Liu's wife, Liu Xia, says she has been moved by all the support she received throughout her husband's candidacy. Since he has been imprisoned this time, she has been allowed to visit him once a month.

Liu says her husband is always in good spirits, but has health problems, including hepatitis.

Some Chinese dissidents show no support

Support for Liu was not universal. Some Chinese dissidents living overseas opposed his candidacy for the Nobel, and wrote an open letter accusing him of maligning fellow activists and not being tough enough on China's leaders.

The Chinese government also was clear in its opposition to Liu's candidacy. At a recent briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu did not say Liu's name, but said he is not appropriate for a Nobel Prize because he is a lawbreaker.

Jiang says she believes the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to people who work to promote ethnic harmony, global friendship or arms reduction.

Support from other human rights advocates

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel (L) with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (file photo – 11 Sept. 2009)
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel (L) with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (file photo – 11 Sept. 2009)

One of the highest profile international pledges of support came from Czech playwright and former president Vaclav Havel, who praised Liu's "unflinching and peaceful advocacy for reform." Charter 08 was modeled on Charter 77, a manifesto that was a rallying document for activists in the former Czechoslovakia.

American lawmakers also have called on President Obama to raise Liu's case when he meets Chinese President Hu Jintao at the G-20 summit in November.

Supporters of Liu Xiaobo hold cards that read "We celebrate Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Prize" outside a park in Beijing, China, 08 Oct. 2010
Supporters of Liu Xiaobo hold cards that read "We celebrate Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Prize" outside a park in Beijing, China, 08 Oct. 2010

Patrick Poon, of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, an organization of writers, says he thinks the Nobel will raise greater interest in Liu's ideas inside China.

"We feel like it will give a very strong influence on attracting new people to look at what Charter 08 is about, and also to read Liu Xiaobo's writing," Poon said.

Charter 08 was initially signed by about 300 intellectuals, lawyers, peasants and workers. The document has circulated on the Internet, and now has 10,000 signatures.

Wife helps keep up his spirits

Liu's wife says although her husband is incarcerated, he still reads all sorts of books, except political publications, and is still writing.

She says she brings Liu notebooks and pens, so that he can carry on his writing.

She says, however, she is not allowed to talk to Liu about things that happen in the outside world.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid