Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo wins Nobel Peace Prize
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Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was given the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Friday, despite the Chinese government having warned Norway that the choice would damage bilateral relations.
Liu, 54, is serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion helping to organise and disseminate a document called Charter 08, which called for freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion in China.
This year, nearly 300 people signed a petition in support of Liu.
“The Nobel prize has been a nightmare for the Chinese authorities for a long time,” says RFI’s Beijing correspondent Stéphane Lagarde. “Liu frightens the authorities. His name is never mentioned by officials, he never appears in the press. All week, the newspapers have written about other Nobel winners but this morning nothing, not a line in the papers.”
No one knew who the Chinese Nobel candidate was when Lagarde asked people in the capital.
Liu has been jailed several times before for criticising the Chinese communist regime.
He was a figure in the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement, after which he spent a year and half in prison without being charged. He also spent three years in a re-education camp between 1996 and 1999 for calling for the liberation of those who were imprisoned for taking part in the events of June 1989.
He is one of the leaders of the Independent Chinese Pen Centre, a group of writers that promotes freedom of expression. Liu’s writing is banned in China but his books are sold in Hong Kong.
In a recent interview, he was cautiously optimistic about democracy in China.
“It will progress very slowly,” he said, “but the demands for freedom on the part of ordinary people as well as party members – will not be easily stifled.”
Before the result was announced Nobel committee head Thorbjoern Jagland said that he was expecting to have to justify this year's choice as much as last year's, when US President Barack Obama was given the award.