China asked to release jailed Nobel laureate Liu

Monday, October 25, 2010

NEW YORK - Fifteen Nobel Peace Prize laureates have asked Chinese President Hu Jintao to release Liu Xiaobo, 2010 winner of the prize, and to free his wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest, the Freedom Now movement said Monday.

The 15 laureates said in a signed letter to the Chinese president last week that releasing Liu would be “an extraordinary recognition of the remarkable transformation China has undergone in recent decades”.

The Washington-based Freedom Now released the letter to Hu Monday. It said the 15 Nobel Peace Prize winners also asked G20 leaders in a separate letter that when they meet November 10-11 in Seoul, they should directly ask Hu to release Liu. China is a member of the G20.

“The (Seoul) summit provides time and opportunity to address Liu’s imprisonment,” the letter to the G20 said. “We strongly urge you to personally impress upon Chinese President Hu Jintao that the release of Liu would not only be welcome, but necessary.”

Liu was awarded the coveted Nobel Peace Prize Oct 7 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, in recognition of his sustained and non-violent campaign for human rights in China. Liu is now serving his fourth prison term, an 11-year sentence, after Chinese authorities charged him with sedition.

Chinese authorities also put his wife under house arrest in Beijing. Freedom Now said Liu Xia has retained it as a pro bono international legal counsel.

The letter to the G20 included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US President Barack Obama, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, one of the 15 Nobel Peace laureate signatories, said that the awarding of the prize to Liu should be viewed by Beijing as a “moment of pride and opportunity for the Chinese government”.

“I strongly urge President Hu to release Liu Xiaobo from his imprisonment and to lift all restrictions on Liu Xia’s liberties,” Tutu said.

The Chinese government called Liu’s Nobel Prize a “blasphemy”.

The 15 Nobel Peace Prize laureates are: Tutu, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Jimmy Carter, FW de Klerk, Shirin Ebadi, John Hume, the Dalai Lama, Mairead Maguire, Wangari Maathai, David Trimble, Rogoberta Menchu Tum, Lech Walesa, Elie Wiesel, Betty Williams and Jody Williams.

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