Thursday, 29 December 2016

Happy Birthday LXB

Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo turns 61 years old in prison today
Today is dissident Liu Xiaobo's birthday. He is marking his 61st birthday in jail, serving his seventh year of an 11-year sentence for inciting subversion of state power when he wrote and circulated his "Charter 08" petition, demanding greater democratic rights in China.

On Christmas Day, several former pan-democratic lawmakers in Hong Kong, like Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho Chun-yan protested outside the Liaison Office, demanding Liu be released, and that house arrest immediately end for his wife Liu Xia, and the persecution of other dissidents, like rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, former Wukan village chief Lin Zulian, and Beijing-based activist Hu Shigen.

Activists like Lee Cheuk-yan held a Liu Xiaobo protest
Ho, who is chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, said after the protest that even though China looks powerful on the surface, "It appears to be so paranoid and so frightened in hearing dissenting voices."

He said locking up more and more non-violent people asking for the recognition of basic rights indicates the "inside is weak and maybe quite fragile."

Liu's 11-year sentence is meant to harshly punish him, but also act as a deterrent to those who think the Chinese should fight for democracy.

What's interesting to note is that this year also marks the sixth anniversary of frosty relations between Beijing and Norway after the Nobel Committee awarded the highly coveted Peace Prize to Liu in 2010.

However, earlier this month, Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende made an unannounced visit to Beijing and on December 19 the two countries announced a normalization of relations.

We are waiting for Liu to come to Oslo to receive his award
In the two governments' joint statement, they acknowledged the deterioration in the bilateral relationship had been "due to the Nobel Peace Prize award and events connected to the prize." It added, "The Norwegian side is fully conscious of the position and concerns of the Chinese side and has worked actively to bring the bilateral relations back to the right track."

Brende did not mention anything about human rights. That would be expected, particularly if a country is keen to restore economic ties with Beijing again.

According to Norwegian data, in December 2010, exports of whole salmon to China was 1 million kilograms, that plunged to 315,000 kg in January 2011, and 75,000 the month after.

Despite normalization of relations between the two countries, Liu's Peace Prize still stands and we are patiently waiting to watch him go to Oslo to receive it.

Happy Birthday Liu! We have not forgotten you.

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