Obama Calls on China to Release Jailed Peace Prize Winner
Washington — President Obama is calling on the Chinese government to release from prison dissident Liu Xiaobo, who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight for democracy and human rights in China.
Obama, whose commitment to nuclear arms control and nonproliferation earned him last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, praised Liu for sacrificing his freedom for his beliefs. Liu was sentenced in December to 11 years in prison for subversion of state power after he led the writing of Charter 08, a manifesto on human rights and political reform in China.
“The Nobel Committee has chosen someone who has been an eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through peaceful and nonviolent means,” Obama said October 8 at the White House after the announcement of the 2010 Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.
Obama commended Liu’s “support for democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
Liu’s win drew a strong reaction from China. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said awarding the honor to Liu was “blasphemy against the peace prize” that could harm relations between China and Norway.
“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,” spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.
The human rights group Amnesty International called on China to release all “prisoners of conscience” following the win.
“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,” said Catherine Baber, deputy Asia-Pacific director at Amnesty International.
The 54-year-old intellectual and author has long been an outspoken critic of China’s communist regime, his activism dating back to his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
His wife, Liu Xia, expressed her happiness about the win and said she would tell her husband during a jail visit October 9.
Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, both former Peace Prize winners, were among a group of intellectuals who publicly urged the Nobel Committee to give the prize to Liu after he was sentenced.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)