Posts Tagged ‘Desmond Tutu’

Liu Xiaobo. Remember him?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
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xiaobo3

Who dat?

What does Liu Xiaobo have in common with  Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, Henry Kissinger, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Jimmy Carter?

Hint: I’ve written about him here and here and here, among other places.  Another hint: remember the empty chair?

How easily we forget a Nobel peace prize winner when it’s inconvenient to remember!   According to PolicyMic, a website founded by recent Harvard and Stanford grads Chris Altchek and Jake Horowitz, ”Liu’s conditions are largely unknown, but many, including Amnesty International, fear the worst the Chinese can offer. The most startling aspect of the Liu Xiaobo case has not just been his arrest for subversion, as his fellow activist Ai Weiwei was in 2011, but the lack of American support for an activist who has been a strong supporter of the United States.”

According to the site, the last time Liu Xiaobo’s fate or existence has been mentioned by the U.S. government was in 2010, “when a bi-partisan group of 30 members of the U.S. Congress wrote President Barack Obama a passionate letter pleading for the president to discuss the release of Liu Xiaobo and fellow activist Gao Zhisheng at the G-20 Summit with President Hu Jintao.”

Here’s the newest development:

lius

In happier times…

Authorities in the Chinese capital on Friday detained a group of activists who tried to visit Liu Xia, the wife of jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo under house arrest at her Beijing home, and beat up Hong Kong journalists who tried to follow them.

Hong Kong activist Yeung Hong, together with Henan-based activist Liu Shasha and two unnamed netizens from Beijing, got as far as the residential compound in a Beijing suburb where Liu has been held under police guard since October 2010, when the Nobel committee first announced her husband’s award.

Holding a placard with the words “Liu Xia, everyone is behind you!” and shouting slogans through a megaphone, the activists were quickly detained, questioned for several hours, and then released in the early hours of Friday morning.

The visit came just days after an international signature campaign begun by Archbishop Desmond Tutu calling on Beijing to free both Lius was handed to Chinese officials, after being signed last year by more than 130 former Nobel laureates across all disciplines.

PolicyMic again:

chair1To help Liu Xiaobo, and his wife Xia, go to Amnesty International and Change. Amnesty International can always use a small monetary donation to do great things; however, if you are a bit more frugal, all the Change petition (led by Desmond Tutu) needs from you is a signature. Let the people of the world try to succeed where Western governments have failed, and in the process try convince those governments to try again … for Liu Xiaobo and Lia, for Gao Zhisheng and Ai Weiwei, and all those unfairly imprisoned by corrupt governments.

The empty chair, a presidential statement: “Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.”

Friday, December 10th, 2010
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While he was named as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Liu Xiaobo was incarcerated, probably working in the prison factory that makes electrical switches.  In Oslo — an empty chair represented him.

Some Twitter users who listed their location as Beijing had changed their profile pictures to an empty chair.

In light of the refusal of one-third of the invited nations to attend in the face of Chinese threats — China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran — it is gratifying to know that President Obama sent out this graceful statement of support today:

One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize – an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.

All of us have a responsibility to build a just peace that recognizes the inherent rights and dignity of human beings – a truth upheld within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  In our own lives, our own countries, and in the world, the pursuit of a just peace remains incomplete, even as we strive for progress.  This past year saw the release of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, even as the Burmese people continue to be denied the democracy that they deserve.  Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos Horta has continued his tireless work to build a free and prosperous East Timor, having made the transition from dissident to President.  And this past year saw the retirement of Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, whose own career demonstrates the universal power of freedom and justice to overcome extraordinary obstacles.

The rights of human beings are universal – they do not belong to one nation, region or faith.  America respects the unique culture and traditions of different countries.  We respect China’s extraordinary accomplishment in lifting millions out of poverty, and believe that human rights include the dignity that comes with freedom from want.  But Mr. Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law.  The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible. I regret that Mr. Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony that Michelle and I attended last year.  Today, on what is also International Human Rights Day, we should redouble our efforts to advance universal values for all human beings.