**By Kelie Montalvo**
Yesterday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned dissident, Liu Xiaobo, for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” While human rights activists celebrate the announcement worldwide, the Chinese government issued a statement that called the award “an obscenity against the peace prize,” and warned the Swedish government that the award could damage relations between the two countries. Beijing has also attempted to stymie all news of Liu Xiaobo’s award in China, an attempt that the New York Times reports is meeting at least partial failure through, among other outlets, government-monitored blogs like Sina.com.
For nearly two decades, fifty-four-year-old writer and activist Liu Xiaobo has peacefully protested against China’s various human rights violations, referring to his native country as a “totalitarian state.” Liu has been charged and imprisoned multiple times by the Chinese government for alleged subversion and dissent. These allegations stem from his instrumental role in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, in which Liu led both a hunger strike and peaceable negotiation between protestors and the People’s Liberation Army. Liu is currently serving his fourth prison term, an eleven-year sentence for helping draft “Charter 08,” an open letter signed by over three hundred and fifty Chinese activists and intellectuals calling for democratic reform in China. An English translation of Charter 08 can be found here.
In his writing, Liu Xiaobo has demanded the Chinese government cease curtailing the right to free speech provisioned by its own constitution. Liu has stressed the importance of peaceful activism rather than violent protest, and for him, writing is a powerful tool in the aid of the process of peaceful change. Below is a video of Liu Xiaobo discussing the importance of freedom of expression in China. He urges the international community to “pay attention” to writers in China and to the oppressive conditions in which they write.
Copyright 2010 Kelie Montalvo
Kelie Montalvo is the blog intern for Guernica.