Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - Page 8 News List

Liu’s Nobel symbolizes support for democracy

By Huang Kuo-chang 黃國昌

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波). Liu was nominated by former Czech president Vaclav Havel and PEN American Center president Kwame Anthony Appiah, amongst others. The nomination was supported by world leaders such as Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and South African former archbishop Desmond Tutu, both of whom are former Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Liu has fought for China’s freedom and democracy for years. He participated in the democratic movement during the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre and has devoted himself to the cause ever since. He has repeatedly been arrested or put under house arrest for urging the Chinese government to implement constitutional democracy. In 2008, he co-authored and launched Charter 08, calling for the abandonment of one-party rule, and building a Chinese federal republic under the framework of a constitutional democracy. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “subversion” and remains in jail to this day. His spirit and actions fully qualify him as a Nobel Peace laureate.

The Taipei Society (澄社) was established in 1989, when Taiwanese democracy was just beginning to take shape. The organization has always taken liberalism as a guideline in an effort to consolidate democratic freedom and protect diversity. It has constantly deconstructed and challenged the authoritarian political system in Taiwan. With our insistence on, and belief in, freedom and democracy, we share a similar experience with Liu and therefore have deep compassion for and understanding of him. We also believe the fact that Taiwan’s democratic transformation was the result of the efforts of the society as a whole serves as an encouragement to Liu and countless other activists who place their hope on China’s democratization.

The Nobel Peace Prize is the focus of world attention. Such an honor excites not only the winners but also the peace movements that they are devoted to. We believe that by awarding the honorary prize to Liu, the Nobel Committee is paying great respect to Liu’s devotion to the democratic movement, while highlighting the world’s encouragement and support for China’s democratization.

Since the 1970s, there has been one Chinese democratic movement after another, including the Tiananmen Square activists who perished in a massacre that shocked the whole world, as well as other sacrifices that have been covered up by the Chinese government. It would be a big disappointment if nobody were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting China’s democratization after all this time.

The Chinese government had actually warned the committee about awarding the prize to Liu beforehand. Such oppression is meaningless. China is now seeing the fruits of decades of economic reform. Political reform will necessarily follow. Beijing should consider the damage it is doing to freedom, democracy, human rights and other fundamental values of the civilized world. Most of all, it should release this globally respected activist now.

Huang Kuo-chang is chairman of the Taipei Society.


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