One year after the award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize (NPP) to Chinese opposant Liu Xiaobo, five former Nobel Prize winners are leading the international campaign to call for his release. Chinese academics retaliated by awarding the Confucius Peace Prize (CPP) to President Putin for his involvement in promoting peace.
The International Committee to Support Liu Xiaobo has received the support of the Human Rights Foundation, Dr. Shirin Ebadi (2003 NPP Laureate), Ms. Jody Williams (1997 NPP Laureate), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984 NPP Laureate), Ms. Mairead Maguire and Ms. Betty Williams (1976 NPP Laureates) as well as Mr. Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic.
Composed of intellectuals, artists, experts on China and human rights activists, the committee aims to inform, defend and call for the release of the first Chinese winner of the NPP and his wife, who has herself been under house arrest for over a year without trial.
On 25 December 2009, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his participation in the drafting of the Chapter 08 document, a political manifesto modeled on the Czechoslovakian Charter ’77 that called for increased rule of law, greater respect for human rights and an end to one-party rule in China.
Chinese academics stood up last year against the NPP by setting up a new award from an eastern perspective, The Confucius Peace Prize. This so-called challenger to the NPP has never been recognized by the Chinese authorities. Last year's recipient, former Taiwanese vice-president Lien Chan, never showed up to collect it.
This year, the prize has been awarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his refusal to engage with NATO in the Libyan conflict. As history repeats itself, the prize, a golden statuette of Confucius and US$15,000, has been accepted by two Russian exchange students studying in China.
At the end of the day, the only outcome of such a controversial decision is that it brings back the focus of the international community onto the NPP itself and the action taken by its former recipients.
"Unfortunately, the sentencing to 11 years in prison seems to be forgotten slowly but steadily outside China," stated the Human Rights Foundation in its press release about the International Committee to Support Liu Xiaobo.
The committee might just have found themselves a fresh burst of publicity for their campaign.
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