The Nobel Peace Prize awards committee has ended all speculation Friday when they finally announced this year’s recipient of the award. China’s most prominent dissident, Liu Xiaobo, was named the winner. His unwavering fight for greater political freedom and human rights in China won him the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize Friday.
The 54-year old former literature professor is currently serving jail time in China for charges of inciting subversion of state power. Liu was sentenced eleven years imprisonment last December 2009 in response to his participation with Charter 08,a manifesto released on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, calling for sweeping political reforms in the Communist country.
Liu, famous for his participation in the 1989 Tianamen Square Protest, has been an enemy of the state since. He served as adviser for the student protesters during the Tianamen Square incident. He has constantly criticized China’s one party rule and was a co-writer of the Charter 08, modeled after the Czechoslovak Charter 77.
Meanwhile, Liu’s wife Liu Xia was happy to hear the news. “The award is an affirmation of what he has fought for,” she said. Long time friend and human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang also received the news happily saying that the Nobel Peace Prize may not be helpful for Liu right now but will surely have a huge impact for the future. ”In the long run, it will leave a legacy that is sure to help bring democratic reform and freedom to China, that will far outlast Liu’s life,” he told CNN.
The Chinese government, on the other hand, was not happy about the news. The government had called it “blasphemy against the peace prize”. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told CNN that “Liu Xiaobo is a convicted criminal sentenced to jail by Chinese justice. His acts are in complete contradiction to the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize”.
The government hid the announcement from its people. The State media never mention about the prize and news black out was orchestrated. Airings of the Friday announcement on two international television networks — CNN and BBC — were suspended. The internet was also closely monitored as Chinese blogs and micro-blogging sites like Twitter were temporarily censored from the netizens.
Dissident playwright and key Charter 77 — which Charter 08 was modeled after– figure, Vaclav Havel nominated Liu for the Prize. “Liu Xiaobo’s friends often tell me they wanted him to get the prize more than he did, because they think this is an opportunity to change China,” Liu’s wife told CNN.
Liu’s story has earned International attention. Amnesty International and governments around the world applauded the awarding of the prize to Liu, with many calling on China to free him.He was arrested on 23 June 2009, on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power and was tried on the same charge on 23 December 2009. Prior to that Liu was charged of ”counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement” in 1991. In October 1996, the government gave him three years of “re education through labor” for “disturbing public order”. He was briefly detained in 2007 for writing anti-government articles online.