Obama on Nobel Peace Prize Winner: China Should Release Liu ‘As Soon as Possible’
December 10, 2010
(ChattahBox World News)— While Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo rots away in prison for the crime of “subversion,” the world is honoring his courage in the face of adversity at the Nobel Peace Price ceremony in Sweden today. The Nobel committee has set aside an empty chair and will honor him in absentia. You may remember last year’s recipient, President Obama. He issued a statement today honoring Liu’s “human dignity” noting that his universal “struggle is peaceful.” And the President called on China to release Liu from his 11-year prison sentence “as soon as possible.” The President praised the choice of Liu for the coveted peace prize, “as far more deserving of this award than I was.”
Obama writes in his statement that he was “humbled” by the honor of being chosen as last year’s peace prize recipient.
“One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize – an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.”
And he wrote of the universal rights of all of us to be able to live in peace and democracy, an idea not yet embraced by China.
“The rights of human beings are universal – they do not belong to one nation, region or faith. America respects the unique culture and traditions of different countries. We respect China’s extraordinary accomplishment in lifting millions out of poverty, and believe that human rights include the dignity that comes with freedom from want. But Mr. Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law. The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible. I regret that Mr. Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony that Michelle and I attended last year. Today, on what is also International Human Rights Day, we should redouble our efforts to advance universal values for all human beings.”
Meanwhile, China is miffed that Liu was chosen as a Nobel Peace Prize winner and has responded by instituting a brutal domestic crack down on activist and dissidents, which could be just about anyone under China’s definition.
“For all the official Chinese fury that has been directed outward, the fiercest reaction to the peace prize has been internal. Scores of activists, lawyers and professors have been prohibited from leaving the country in recent days, or placed under house arrest, with their telephone and Internet lines cut. As the Nobel ceremony drew closer, some were also told not to speak to reporters.”
And China is also ensuring that its citizens can’t watch today’s proceedings, or even read any news reports about Liu’s prize.
“The Web sites of the BBC, CNN, Britain’s Channel 4 and Norwegian television NRK were blocked starting Thursday, preventing live streaming. On Friday, CNN and BBC television broadcasts were on the air for people with satellite dishes, but with intermittent blackouts during some segments.”
“Various news Web sites remained inaccessible, with a message saying the sites are “temporarily unavailable.”‘
During the ceremony, actress Liv Ullmann read Liu’s remarks before being sentenced to prison last year.
“I have once again been shoved into the dock by the enemy mentality of the regime,” Liu said on Dec. 23, 2009. “But I still want to say to this regime, which is depriving me of my freedom, that I stand by [my] convictions. … I have no enemies, and no hatred.”
“Hatred, Liu continued , “can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation’s progress toward freedom and democracy.”
Photo Source: Wikimedia/VOA/Public Domain