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China Must End Political Repression, Release Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo

The InternationalCommunity Must Reject theChinese Government's Open Challenge to UniversalValues, Demand Release of AllChinese Prisoners of Conscience (Chinese Human RightsDefenders, December 9, 2010) – On December 10, HumanRights Day, the NobelPeace Prize ceremony will celebrate the dedication andpersonal sacrifices of2010 laureate Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), one of China'sleading voices for rights and democracy. Yet the daywill be marked as well by the Chinese government'sescalating campaign tosilence these voices. The Nobel Peace Prize ceremonywill take place with therecipient’s chair unoccupied, as Liu Xiaobo remains injail serving an 11-yearprison sentence for “inciting subversion” and hiswife, Liu Xia (刘霞), relatives, and someof his close friends andassociates held incommunicado illegally. None of theinvitees to the ceremonyfrom mainland China are believed to be attending theevent, as the Chinesegovernment has construed attendance by any Chinesecitizen as a subversive act.(For a full list of the 143 invitees, and therestrictions preventing them fromattending, please see the attached .pdf file.)   “TheChinese government is losing credibilityby making a mockery of its own pledge to upholdinternational human rightsstandards. Its angry retaliation against the NobelPeace Prize – by harassingits own citizens – reinforces the fact that it is theChinese leaders, not theChinese people, who reject the universal values ofwhich the Nobel Peace Prizespeaks,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s InternationalDirector. “The current harshcrackdown further exposes the degenerating rightsconditions in China,vindicating the vision and courage of the NobelCommittee to award this year'sPeace Prize to a Chinese political prisoner.”The Chinese governmenthas recently intensified its efforts to obstruct theDecember 10 ceremony, acrackdown which began the moment the Nobel Peace Prizewas announced on October8. Police across the country have put activists,dissidents, and prominentmembers of civil society under surveillance andrestricted their movements;CHRD has documented over a hundred such cases to date.At least dozens morehave been questioned or harassed by officials in orderto intimidate them intosilence about the Nobel Peace Prize, while at leastfive have been detained(though later released) in retaliation for celebratingthe news. For a list ofcases documented by CHRD, please see our website at  While the use of thesetactics by China's powerful police apparatus is notnew, the intensity withwhich they are being implemented has surpassed recentcrackdowns. One activistcontacted by CHRD called the pressure “worse than thebuildup to the BeijingOlympics or after the release of Charter08.” None of the restrictions imposed by thegovernment—for example,cutting off internet and telephone lines, stationingpolice at the doors toactivists’ homes, forcing activists to leave theircity of residence—have anylegal basis.One notabledevelopmenthas been the government’s ban on international travelby prominent members ofcivil society or their family members in order toprevent anyone residing inChina from going to Oslo. CHRD has attached to the endof this press release asummary of the restrictions faced by the 143 Chinesecitizens invited to theceremony by Liu Xia, of whom 140 are currently livingon mainland China.[1]None ofthese 140 appear able to leave the country. Some werethreatened againstattempting to travel, while others were stopped enroute. Still others may havedecided not to try to attend the ceremony in order toavoid trouble, while asmall number may never have intended to attend, forvarious reasons. Inaddition to invitees from this list, CHRD has alsodocumented at least a dozencases in which lawyers, scholars, and activists ortheir family members havebeen stopped at airports or border crossings or deniedpassports since October8. “The obsessive focusonpreventing activists from traveling to Oslo iscompletely irrational,” saidXia. “The more people are barred from leaving thecountry, and the harder thegovernment works to stifle news of the Nobel ceremonydomestically, the moremeaning the event takes on for the curious ordinaryChinese.  Many of China's 420million netizens will tryto circumvent internet controls and express theirexcitement online.”While most expect theoverwhelming pressure on domestic activists to easesomewhat in the daysfollowing the Nobel ceremony, there is no indicationthat the award will bringfreedom for the man that it honors. Liu Xiaobo’s11-year prison sentence forhis work on Charter 08, which marksits two-year anniversary today, is a testament to theChinese government’sunrelenting prosecution of expression and repressionof any calls forsubstantive political reform.CHRD urges the Chinesegovernment to unconditionally and immediately releaseLiu Xiaobo, free his wifeLiu Xia from house arrest, and lift the softdetention, police surveillance,and travel ban on supporters of Liu Xiaobo and otherhuman rightsactivists.  CHRD asks citizens andleaders of democratic countries to speak up indefending the universal valuesthat the Nobel Peace Prize promotes and that theChinese government hasostentatiously challenged.  UnitedNationsSecretary General Ban Ki Moon, United States PresidentBarack Obama,and other world leaders must speak publicly to protectthe core values thatdefine the institutions they serve – human rights,peace, and justice. Anythingshort of a clear and public statement in support ofLiu Xiaobo would be viewedas weakness and an act of acquiescence to the Chinesegovernment's naked attackon these values.MediaContacts:Renee Xia,International Director (English and Mandarin), +8528191 6937 or +1 301 5479286Wang Songlian,ResearchCoordinator (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 1660For moreinformation, please see:“Chinese Reactions toLiu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize- from Both Sides,”updated December 7, 2010,“Nobel LaureateLanguishes in Prison, Police Harassment of ActivistsRages On,” November 8, 2010, “’Inciting Subversionof State Power:’ A Legal Tool for Prosecuting FreeSpeech in China,” January 8, 2008, [1]Gao Yaojie (高耀洁) and Wan Yanhai (万延海)are currently living in the United States, and LiPu (李普) passed away after the list waspublished.

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