Here are a few reactions to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8 to the writer and literary critic Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced in December 2009 to an 11-year sentence for “incitement to subversion of state power” for his writings about democracy and human rights and his association with the Charter 08 democracy manifesto:
Ma Zhaoxu, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China:
Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who had been sentenced to jail by China’s justice mechanisms for violating China’s law. His actions contradict the aims of Nobel Peace Prize. By giving the Peace Prize to such a person, the Nobel Committee has completely contradicted the aims of the prize; it is a blasphemy to the Peace Prize.
Spokesman for U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon:
The Secretary-General expresses his sincere hope that any differences on this decision will not detract from advancement of the human rights agenda globally or the high prestige and inspirational power of the Award.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
I offer my heartfelt congratulations…. [the award] is the international community’s recognition of the increasing voices among the Chinese people in pushing China toward political, legal and constitutional reforms. … Premier Wen Jiabao’s recent comments on freedom of speech being indispensable and people’s wish for democracy and freedom being irresistible are a reflection of the growing yearning for a more open China.
President Barack Obama:
Last year, I noted that so many others who have received the award had sacrificed so much more than I. That list now includes Mr. Liu, who has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs…. Over the last 30 years, China has made dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. But this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected. We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible.
Former Czech president, dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel:
Liu Xiaobo is exactly the type of active citizen who deserves the prize…. The Norwegian Nobel Committee also deserves recognition since it was not frightened by China’s warnings and did not prefer economic interests over human rights.
Charter 08, the democracy manifesto published in late 2008, which Liu signed, was inspired by Charter 77, the anti-communist Czech civic movement Havel helped found.
The Associated Press:
On October 10, “about 20 protesters in the southern Chinese city of Hong Kong celebrated Liu's Nobel win by drinking champagne and eating Norwegian salmon outside the central Chinese government's local liaison office.”
Liu Xiaobo, as relayed by his wife, the artist Liu Xia, to the New York-based group Human Rights in China.
This award is for the lost souls of June Fourth.
Liu Xiaobo is referring to the massacre of democracy protesters on the night of June 3-4, 1989. Liu was involved in the demonstrations and has since written about the massacre and its significance to the future development of China. The 1989 movement is still considered subversive by communist authorities and writing about it in China for Chinese readers is very dangerous and brave.