Friday, December 10, 2010

Liu Xiaobo

Excerpts from a statement by Liu Xiaobo at his trial last year, read by Liv Ullman, today in Oslo, at the ceremony awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize.  Unfortunately, the honoree was unable to attend, because he is in prison for exercising his right to free speech:

Hatred can rot away at a person's intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society's tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation's progress toward freedom and democracy. . . . 
I firmly believe that China's political progress will not stop, and I, filled with optimism, look forward to the advent of a future free China. For there is no force that can put an end to the human quest for freedom, and China will in the end become.a nation ruled by law, where human rights reign supreme. . . . 
I look forward to [the day] when my country is a land with freedom of expression, where the speech of every citizen will be treated equally well; where different values, ideas, beliefs, and political views ... can both compete with each other and peacefully coexist; where both majority and minority views will be equally guaranteed, and where the political views that differ from those currently in power, in particular, will be fully respected and protected; where all political views will spread out under the sun for people to choose from, where every citizen can state political views without fear, and where no one can under any circumstances suffer political persecution for voicing divergent political views. I hope that I will be the last victim of China's endless literary inquisitions and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech.
Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.
Imagine being Liu Xiaobo's guard today, watching him sitting in his cell and knowing that at the same time he is being awarded one of the world's highest honors.  Would the guard wonder which one of them is more free, and which one is more in captivity?

Imagine the dilemma of the Chinese government responding to this award.  Characteristically, they  tried to prevent Chinese citizens from watching coverage of the award ceremony, pressured other foreign governments not to attend, and cracked down even harder on dissidents.   They act as if they are intent on proving the validity of Liu Xiaobo's criticisms of the regime.

And here is a statement by our Secretary of State:

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