Liu Xiaobo really annoys the Chinese government. He is a scholar, a writer, a poet and a social commentator and now he is the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. There is just one problem. He is in jail for wanting a peaceful political change in his native country.
Few people know of Liu Xiaobo in China but the rest of the world sees in him China’s best potential future. It began in 1989 when Liu joined thousands of pro-democracy protesters at the Tian’anmen Square in Beijing. The protesters were brutally beaten or fired at by the authorities. Liu went on a hunger strike and then negotiated for the peaceful retreat of student demonstrators as thousands of armed soldiers stood by and watched. Liu was sentenced for his part in the protest and sent to jail for two years.
Despite repeated harassment by Chinese authorities, two years ago Liu helped author a document called Charter 08. In the charter he stressed the importance of freedom, human rights, equality and endorsed direct elections, an independent justice system and an end to Communist Party dominance.
One day before the charter went online, Liu was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Online only briefly before being pulled off the internet by government censors, Charter 08 has since gained the signed support from over 10,000 academics, artists, lawyers and activists both inside and outside China. (http://www.charter08.eu/)
Despite the Chinese government’s warning, the Nobel Committee went ahead and awarded Liu with the 2010 Nobel Peace Price. The $1.4 million award and the honour is to bestowed on Liu Xiaobo in a ceremony this Friday, Dec 10, but is is unlikely that even a close family member will be able to attend and accept it on Liu’s behalf.
“Peace on Earth, can it be
Years from now, perhaps we’ll see
See the day of glory
See the day, when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace again …”