Five Nobel Peace Prize winners have launched a campaign to free last year’s laureate, jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), saying they fear the world will forget that he is still imprisoned.
Ahead of today’s ceremony for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, past laureates and human rights groups announced the creation of a committee in support of Liu, a writer who is serving an 11-year sentence after writing a manifesto for democratic change in China.
The committee — which includes South African anti--apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu — said it feared that Beijing was silencing Liu’s family and friends after first carrying out an “international wave of intimidation.”
“The international community seems to have forgotten that a year after the award ceremony, Liu Xiaobo remains in prison in China and in harsh conditions,” the committee said in its first statement on Thursday. “The committee calls on all those committed to freedom of thought and opinion to join the committee in its efforts to obtain the release of Liu Xiaobo.”
Other Nobel laureates in the effort are Iranian rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi and Northern Ireland campaigners Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams. Former Czech -president Vaclav Havel is among the non-Nobel laureates on the committee.
Liu, a former professor, co-authored Charter 08, a bold petition calling for political reform in China. He was convicted of subversion and sentenced to 11 years in prison on Dec. 25, 2009.
China responded furiously to the Nobel Peace Prize and cut off political dialogue with Norway, which administers the award. Relations remain tense a year later.