Liu wins Nobel Prize

In December, 2009, we blogged about 54 year old Liu Xiaobo and his harsh 11 year prison sentence for subversion.

Yesterday, the passionate, chain-smoking Chinese dissident was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Friday for helping to spearhead a campaign for more freedom in China.

Liu is currently serving his sentence at Jinzhou prison in Liaoning, hundreds of miles from his home and wife in Beijing.

Ma Zhaoxu, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “Liu Xiaobo is a sentenced criminal who has violated Chinese law,” and honoring him “runs counter to the principles of the Nobel Peace Prize.”

In 1996, Liu spent 3 years in a labor camp after demanding clemency for those still imprisoned as a result of their roles in the 1989 student democracy demonstrations that resulted in the shooting of hundreds if not thousands in Tiananmen Square by Chinese soldiers. To this day, the Chinese government refers to that massacre as the June 4th incident.

Charter 08, a document penned by Liu and hundreds of other dissidents in 2008, called for the end of one party rule in China and ultimately led to the 11 year sentence Liu is now serving. Ironically, Charter 08 is virtually unknown in China because the government made a concerted effort at the time to shut down any mention of it on the Internet within the country.

Whether the Nobel Prize will soften the government’s attitude toward dissidents like Liu and events like the Tiananmen massacre remains to be seen.