The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 to Liu Xiaobo for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has long held the view that human rights and peace are closely linked. Human rights are essential for what Alfred Nobel referred to as “fraternity between nations” in his will.
In its announcement, the Nobel Committee pointed out that, “For over two decades, Liu Xiaobo has been a strong spokesman for the application of fundamental human rights also in China.” The Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg commented, “The Nobel Committee’s decision directs a spotlight on the human rights situation in China, and underscores the links between development, democracy and universal human rights.”
Liu Xiaobo took part in the Tiananmen protests in 1989 and was a key leader; he was a leading author behind Charter 08, the manifesto of such rights in China which was published on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10th of December 2008. The following year, Liu was sentenced to eleven years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights for "inciting subversion of state power". Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China's own constitution and fundamental human rights.
The campaign to establish universal human rights also in China is being waged by many Chinese, both in China itself and abroad. Through the severe punishment meted out to him, Liu has become the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China.
According to BBC News, several countries including the US, France and Germany, called for Liu Xiaobo immediate release:
- US President Barack Obama said Mr Liu had "has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs" and called for his speedy release;
- German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said China should free him so he could attend the ceremony;
- France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also welcomed the award and also called on China to release Mr Liu. UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay said the prize recognised a "very prominent human rights defender".
- The London-based rights group Amnesty International said Mr Liu was a "worthy winner".
Foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said: "Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who violated Chinese law. It is a complete violation of the principles of the prize and an insult to the peace prize itself for the Nobel committee to award the prize to such a person.
China said the award could damage ties with Norway, and summoned the country's ambassador in Beijing in protest. According to a Norwegian spokeswoman the Chinese foreign ministry "wanted to officially share their... disagreement and their protest,". She added "We emphasised that this is an independent committee and the need to continue good bilateral relations".
According to AFP news agency Mr Liu's wife, Liu Xia, said she was excited by the award: "I want to thank everyone for supporting Liu Xiaobo. I strongly ask that the Chinese government release Liu."
According to RNW Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest at the couple's Beijing apartment when the award was announced.
The award ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize will be held in Oslo on 10 December. According to a statement of the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the brothers of Liu Xiaobo (Liu Xiaoguang and Liu Xiaoxuan) are willing to accept the prize on Liu Xiaobo behalf in Norway if his wife Liu Xia is unable to attend because of house arrest. The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.5m; £944,000).