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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Liu Xiaobo's Peace Prize: A Victory for Tibet

October 13, 2010

Matt Hamlin
The Huffington Post
October 8, 2010

Today, jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This is really an
incredible statement by the Nobel Committee and a
great push for democracy and human rights in
China. Liu Xiaobo is one of China's most
prominent democracy and rights advocates,
currently serving an 11-year prison term for
calling for democracy, rights and a multi-party
system in Charter 08. Charter 08 was initially
signed by a small group of intellectuals and
dissidents, though quickly signed by more than
2,000 citizens shortly after publication. It was
intended to be a road map for how political change could safely occur in China.

Liu also stands out because of his strong support
for Tibet and the Tibetan Government in Exile's
position of autonomy. In 2000, he authored an
essay titled "The Right of Self-government,"
which supported the Dalai Lama's push for Tibetan
autonomy (Chinese version, English translation).
Obviously this did not win him many friends in
the Chinese government. Liu has also put forward
a specific plan for improving the situation in
Tibet, authored with Wang Lixiong, "Twelve
Suggestions on Dealing with the Tibetan
Situation." It was written just after the start
of the March 2008 national uprising in Tibet, at
a time when tensions were high and a massive
crackdown against Tibetans was beginning. The
article included in the suggestions:

1. At present the one-sided propaganda of the
official Chinese media is having the effect of
stirring up inter-ethnic animosity and
aggravating an already tense situation. This is
extremely detrimental to the long-term goal of
safeguarding national unity. We call for such propaganda to be stopped.

2. We support the Dalai Lama's appeal for peace
and hope that the ethnic conflict can be dealt
with according to the principles of goodwill,
peace and nonviolence. We condemn any violent act
against innocent people, strongly urge the
Chinese government to stop the violent
suppression, and appeal to the Tibetan people
likewise not to engage in violent activities...

9. We appeal to the Chinese people and overseas
Chinese to be calm and tolerant, and to reflect
deeply on what is happening. Adopting a posture
of aggressive nationalism will only invite
antipathy from the international community and
harm China's international image.

10. The disturbances in Tibet in the 1980s were
limited to Lhasa, whereas this time they have
spread to many Tibetan areas. This deterioration
indicates that there are serious mistakes in the
work that has been done with regard to Tibet. The
relevant government departments must
conscientiously reflect upon this matter, examine
their failures, and fundamentally change the failed nationality policies.

11. In order to prevent similar incidents from
happening in future, the government must abide by
the freedom of religious belief and the freedom
of speech explicitly enshrined in the Chinese
Constitution, thereby allowing the Tibetan people
fully to express their grievances and hopes, and
permitting citizens of all nationalities freely
to criticize and make suggestions regarding the
government's nationality policies.

Liu has even been a strong supporter of and
advocate for Woeser, Tibet's most famous poet and
political dissident. This essay (Chinese version,
English translation) defends one of her banned
books and includes strong calls for freedom of
thought and religion in China and Tibet. Again,
these are not actions that made Liu popular with the Chinese government.

As much as today's award is a great step in the
cause of democracy and human rights in China, it
has not yet changed the Chinese government. This is being reported on Twitter:

"Wife of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo says
police forcing her to leave Beijing: 'They want
to distance me from the media.'"

Nobel Peace Prize winner the Dalai Lama has
already put out a statement in praise of Liu
Xiaobo's Nobel win. I would hope that President
Barack Obama, himself a Nobel Peace prize winner,
issues a strong statement in support of Liu
Xiaobo, including a call for his release from prison.

Today is a great day in the cause of freedom and
human rights. People often ask me whether or not
freedom can ever come for Tibetans. I've always
believed that for change to occur in Tibet, there
must be change in China first. Liu Xiaobo is one
of the leading advocates for democracy in China
whose work makes the very possibility of a
resolution to the Tibet question a likelihood. It
is dissidents like Liu, Wang Lixiong, Hu Jia and
blogger Han Han who are going to bring meaningful
political change in China, a likely precondition
to freedom in Tibet. I can't think of anyone more
deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than Liu
Xiaobo, a truly courageous man of principle whose
belief in democracy and freedom has the power to
shake one of the largest countries in the world to its core.

Update:
President Barack Obama has issued a statement
calling on the Chinese government to release Liu
Xiaobo. Here is the President's statement in full:

I welcome the Nobel Committee's decision to award
the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Liu Xiaobo. Last
year, I noted that so many others who have
received the award had sacrificed so much more
than I. That list now includes Mr. Liu, who has
sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs. By
granting the prize to Mr. Liu, the Nobel
Committee has chosen someone who has been an
eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance
of universal values through peaceful and
non-violent means, including his support for
democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

As I said last year in Oslo, even as we respect
the unique culture and traditions of different
countries, America will always be a voice for
those aspirations that are universal to all human
beings. Over the last 30 years, China has made
dramatic progress in economic reform and
improving the lives of its people, lifting
hundreds of millions out of poverty. But this
award reminds us that political reform has not
kept pace, and that the basic human rights of
every man, woman and child must be respected. We
call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu
as soon as possible. [Emphasis added]

This is a great statement from President Obama,
both in its humility and in the President's use
of his platform to call for Liu's release. Thank you, Mr. President.
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