Earlier this month, Liu Xiaobo, the most prominent dissident in China, received the Nobel Peace Prize. In contrast to last year’s decision, the Norwegian committee gave the coveted honor to a much more worthy nominee this time around.
As Commonweal explained in a nice editorial last Friday:
A literary critic and political essayist, Liu played a prominent role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, where he helped save hundreds of lives by convincing the student demonstrators to leave the square without resorting to violence. He was arrested and jailed until 1991, and he lost his university teaching position. Undeterred, he continued to write in favor of gradual, nonviolent political reform, individual rights, and the autonomy of civil society. In 1996 the regime sentenced him to three years in a labor camp. As China prepared to host the 2008 Olympics, Liu and a handful of other prominent dissidents issued “Charter 08,” calling once again for China to reform itself along liberal democratic lines and to honor its obligations, under international agreements and its own constitution, to protect basic human rights such as freedom of expression and assembly.
His co-authoring of that document led to his imprisonment for 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power.” In his 2009 “Final Statement” to the court that sentenced him, Liu wrote:
“I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies… Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience… That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation’s development and social change, to counter the regime’s hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love.”