I read with teary eyes today that Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize this morning.
Liu is the first person from mainland China to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and a writer at that. Almost as soon as the news was announced, though, it was censored in China.
I find it sad and disturbing that even with all the progress in China today, people are still imprisoned for speaking out against the state. Sad, but not surprised.
A little more than 2 years ago, Liu helped write Charter 08, which was released on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Two days before Charter 08’s official release, Liu was carried away from his home and sentenced to an 11-year prison term. He’s now jailed in a cell in China’s Liaoning province, some 300 miles from Beijing.
Charter 08 was modeled after Czechoslovakia’s Charter 77. Things in Czechoslovakia worked out nicely, but I wonder what will happen in China. Even with the Nobel committee’s announcement of Liu’s nomination, endorsed by many, including Vaclav Havel, Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama–all proponents of non-violence–Beijing issued a statement declaring Liu a criminal and a traitor.
Liu has been imprisoned four times, including a three year sentence of labor work in the mid- to late-90s.
If history repeats itself, there’s hope for Liu. Some of those who nominated him for the Nobel also served prison time as dissidents. And then they went on to be elected to the highest office in their countries.
One can only hope.