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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

China: Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Spotlights Rights Deficit

October 13, 2010

Release Peace Laureate and Other Jailed Rights Defenders
For Immediate Release
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
October 8, 2010)

New York, Oct. 8 -- The awarding of the 2010
Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese writer and human
rights activist Liu Xiaobo underscores the urgent
need for rights reforms in China, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch reiterated its longstanding
call for the release of Liu, whom a Beijing court
sentenced to an 11-year prison term on December
25, 2009.  His spurious “subversion” charges
stemmed from his role in drafting and circulating
Charter '08, an online petition which advocates
putting human rights, democracy, and the rule of
law at the core of the Chinese political system.
Originally signed by 303 Chinese citizens,
including rights defenders and legal activists,
it has been widely circulated online and has now
collected thousands of signatures. Prior to his
formal arrest on June 23, 2009, Liu had been held
incommunicado since his detention on December 8, 2008.

"This award will no doubt infuriate the Chinese
government by putting its human rights record
squarely back into the international debate,”
said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at
Human Rights Watch. “But this Nobel Prize honors
not only Liu’s unflinching advocacy; it honors
all those in China who struggle daily to make the government more accountable."

Human Rights Watch has characterized Liu’s arrest
as politically motivated, and determined that the
conditions of his detention did not meet minimum
standards of fairness and due process. A former
professor of literature, Liu spent nearly two
years in prison following the crackdown on the
June 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Following
his detention in December 2008, which violated
the minimum procedural guarantees specified under
Chinese law, a group of prominent signatories,
including several Nobel Prize winners, sent an
open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao urging him to secure Liu’s release.

Liu’s imprisonment is part of wider political
hardening in China which began in the run-up to
the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Since that time,
the government has imposed long prison terms on
high-profile dissidents on baseless state secrets
or “subversion” charges, expanded restrictions on
media and Internet freedom, and tightened
controls on lawyers, human rights defenders, and
nongovernmental organizations. Since early 2007,
the Chinese government has also broadened
controls on Uighurs and Tibetans; arbitrary
detentions and enforced disappearances swelled
both in Xinjiang and Tibet, and the practice of
detaining people unlawfully in secret facilities
known as “black jails” has continued.

"The Nobel Committee made an important decision
this year to highlight a reality few want to
acknowledge about China – that its government
continues to persecute human rights advocates,
lawyers, and journalists,” said Richardson. “Liu
Xiaobo epitomizes the Nobel Peace Prize ideals by
never deviating from his belief in peacefully
expressing universal ideals and speaking truth to power.”

Human Rights Watch also reiterated its call for
the Chinese government to release Liu and other
jailed or “disappeared” activists including Hu
Jia, Gao Zhisheng, Tan Zuoren and Huang Qi. Liu
is arguably the most well-known government critic
currently in prison, but he is one among many
suffering similar -- or worse -- persecution.

"The Chinese government should see Liu Xiaobo as
the Nobel Committee clearly does: not as an enemy
or an embarrassment, but rather as someone whose
courageous advocacy embodies the best of China,” said Richardson.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on China, please visit

To read the July 2009 commentary "Free Liu
Xiaobo" by Phelim Kine, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English,
Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)

In Hong Kong, Nicholas Bequelin (English, French,
Mandarin): +852-8198-1040 (mobile)

In New York, Phelim Kine (English, Mandarin): +1-212-810-0469 (mobile)

In New York, Minky Worden (English, Cantonese):
+1-212-216-1250; or +1-917-497-0540 (mobile)

In Brussels, Reed Brody (English, French,
Spanish, Portuguese): +32-2-737-1489; or +32-498-625786 (mobile)

In Paris, Jean-Marie Fardeau (English, French,
Portuguese): +33-1-43-59-55-31; or +33-6-45-85-24-87 (mobile)
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