Human Rights Watch is delighted to congratulate Chinese human rights activist and writer Liu Xiaobo for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Liu Xiaobo, a peaceful protester during the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, is one of the most outspoken critics of the Chinese government. Last year, he was charged with “inciting subversion” for co-authoring Charter 08— an online petition which advocates putting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law at the core of the Chinese political system. After a two-hour closed trial, Liu was sentenced to 11 years, the longest known prison term for subversion since the crime was put on the book in 1996. Liu personifies the struggle of countless human rights defenders in China, where they and Human Rights Watch had fought for free speech and the release of political prisoners for more than 20 years.
Liu Xiaobo's wife holds his photo. © 2010 Reuters
|This award puts China’s human rights record squarely back in the spotlight. Liu is widely acknowledged to have been singled out as a warning to others who might agitate for the civil and political freedoms that have not accompanied China’s economic reforms. Human Rights Watch continues to press for Liu Xiaobo’s release.
A former professor of literature, Liu spent nearly two years in prison following the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. In 1996 he spent a further three years in a “re-education through labor” camp for demanding that Tiananmen demonstrators who were still in prison be released.
Last week Human Rights Watch named Liu Xiaobo as a winner of the 2010 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, bestowed for his fearless commitment to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in China. Human Rights Watch works closely with human rights defenders like Liu as part of our research and advocacy on some 90 countries around the world. Liu will be honored in absentia at the 2010 Human Rights Watch annual dinners in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Toronto.
The Nobel Committee made an important decision to highlight a reality few want to acknowledge about China – that its government continues to persecute human rights advocates, lawyers, and journalists.
In December 2009, a Beijing court sentenced Liu to 11 years in prison for co-authoring Charter ’08, an online petition to put human rights, democracy, and the rule of law at the core of the Chinese political system. Liu personifies the struggle of countless human rights defenders in China, where Human Rights Watch has fought for free speech and the release of political prisoners for more than 20 years. In December 2009, a Beijing court charged Liu with “subversion” and sentenced him to an 11-year prison term for co-authoring Charter '08, an online petition which advocates putting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law at the core of the Chinese political system. Human Rights Watch continues to press for his release.
It honors not only Liu's unflinching advocacy but all those in China who struggle daily to make the government more accountable..