It has been hailed as an inspirational choice. Leaders from across the globe are commending the Nobel Peace Prize committee for honouring a ‘selfless nonconformist political prisoner’ and electing Liu Xiaobo as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner. But will the world’s most honourable award actually bring Liu Xiaobo closer to freedom and in doing so, be evolutionary in the democracy movement?
During serving his forth prison sentence, Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Naturally the prize has been welcomed by human rights activists around the world, who see the award as some kind of victory. But will winning such a prestigious award help Liu Xiaobo walk from prison a free man?
Liu’s wife seemed confident the prize will result in her husband’s release. Amnesty International is equally as excited about this year’s winner and regards it as a victory for human rights. Catherine Baber, the Amnesty International deputy director for the Asia Pacific region said:
“Liu Xiaobo is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. We hope it will keep the spotlight on the struggle for fundamental freedoms and concrete protection of human rights that Liu and many other activists in China are dedicated to.”
Awarding the Chinese dissident the prize has certainly succeeded in putting human rights and those advocating peaceful but nonconformist political activities in the spotlight. If we had not heard of the Chinese writer prior to the media whirlwind caused by him winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, we have certainly heard of Liu Xiaobo now.
Despite this seemingly widespread admiration towards Liu, which for many renders him wholly deserving of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, there is nothing particularly new about the award being used as a tool in promoting awareness to oppressive regimes. On the contrary to conforming to the desires of human rights activists and being agreeable to the international community, states feeling pressured in the wake of an infamous political dissident receiving such an honorary award, have become even more determined not to ‘give in’ – the cases of Dalai Lama in Tibet in 1989 and Shirin Ebadi of Iran in 2003, spring to mind.
Given this pessimistic hindsight into the modest amount of success the Nobel Peace Prize brings to liberating dissidents and to the democracy movement as a whole, it was of little surprise when the next media-hyped episode of the saga informed its audience that Mr Liu’s wife, Liu Xia was placed under house arrest as she visited her husband in prison to break the good news.
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