For Immediate Release: October 8, 2010
New York City – Following today’s announcement that Chinese human rights activist and prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo was chosen to receive the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino issued the following statement:
“We welcome the decision of the Nobel Committee to bestow this year’s Peace Prize on Liu Xiaobo. Liu’s courageous efforts to demand democracy and human rights for the Chinese people in the face of government oppression are precisely what the Nobel Peace Prize was created to honor and elevate. In awarding the prize to Liu, the Nobel Committee gives hope to all Chinese citizens who hunger for fundamental freedoms, many of whom—like Liu—have sacrificed their personal security and liberty to advance the cause of democracy and human rights. Liu was convicted of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ and is serving an 11 year prison term for his role in drafting Charter 08, an appeal for human rights and democracy modeled on Charter 77, the document spearheaded by fellow Nobel laureate Václav Havel. Charter 77 led to the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.
“ Today’s prize offers the Obama Administration an opportunity to underscore its commitment to human rights and civil society in China. Secretary Clinton has rightly said that government repression of activists like Liu Xiaobo should be seen not only as an attack ‘against people we admire, [but] against our own fundamental beliefs. So when we defend these great people, we are defending an idea that has been and will remain essential to the success of every democracy.’ That is why it is so critical that American policy toward China put protection of civil society at its center. Advancing human rights in China is central to achieving other economic, strategic, and diplomatic priorities. Pressing the Chinese government on such issues, including respect for the rule of law and greater government transparency and accountability, will strengthen advance a range of other American interests with China, from environmental protection, to product safety, to a level economic playing field.”
“We congratulate Liu Xiaobo on this great and fitting honor, and express our solidarity with all those in China who stand up for freedom of expression and association, freedom of religion, fair and impartial justice and other fundamental rights, often at great personal risk. We urge the Obama Administration to do all it can to translate its commitment to human rights into a strategy designed to advance real change for Liu and others laboring for fundamental rights in China.”