BEIJING/OSLO: Mr Liu Xiaobo, a jailed Chinese dissident, on Friday won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his "long and non-violent struggle" to secure fundamental human rights for his country’s 1.3 billion people, drawing a sharp reaction from Beijing which said the organisers have "desecrated" the award by honouring a "criminal."
Fifty four-year-old Mr Liu, who was also a key leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, was selected for the prestigious award by the Nobel committee, rejecting China’s demand not to honour him.
Making the announcement in Oslo, Nobel committee president, Mr Thorbjoern Jagland said Mr Liu was "the foremost symbol of the wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China."
Mr Jagland, reading the citation, said China’s new status in the world in the wake of its phenomenal economic advances "must entail increased responsibility." "China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights," he said. In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned the Nobel committee’s decision and said that the coveted prize was granted to a "criminal." The grant of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr Liu desecrated the prize and could harm China-Norway ties, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mr Ma Zhaoxu said.
Mr Liu was sentenced to 11 years in jail on December 25, 2009, after a local court in Beijing convicted him of organising an agitation aimed at subverting the government. "The Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to people who contribute to national harmony, country-to-country friendship, advancing disarmament, and convening and propagandising peace conferences," Mr Ma said, claiming that it was the wish of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel prizes.
He said Mr Liu was a "criminal" sentenced by the Chinese judicial authorities for violating the Chinese law. "What he has done is contrary to the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize," he said. The Nobel committee’s decision to award such a person the peace prize ran contrary to and desecrated the prize, Mr Ma said.
According to the award citation, Mr Liu, for over two decades, has been a strong spokesman for the application of fundamental human rights in China. He took part in the Tiananmen protests in 1989 and was a leading author behind Charter 08, which called for greater freedom and an end to the Communist Party’s political dominance.
Mr Liu was arrested hours before Charter 08 was due to be released in December 2008 and the following year, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for "inciting subversion of state power." Mr Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China’s own Constitution and fundamental human rights.