Friday, December 10, 2010

2010 Nobel Peace Prize placed on an Empty Chair

Dignitaries, human rights advocates and people of good conscience from all across the world gathered today, 10 December 2010 - Human Rights Day - in Oslo's City Hall to participate in the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. They witnessed the placing of the prestigious award on an empty chair, in a ceremony that shed light on the sorry-state of human rights and fundamental freedoms in China.

You're probably aware that the laureate - Liu Xiaobo was unable to attend the ceremony because he is presently locked away in a jail in China for peacefully advocating human rights. However, the ceremony went on as planned - with a compelling speech from the Chairman of the Nobel Committee, and of course, the award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu in absentia.

Thorbjorn Jagland, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, had some strong words for China. He unequivocally condemned state-sponsored repression and urged the regime to release Liu Xiaobo unconditionally - stating that "Liu has done no wrong" and that "China will grow strong if it grants civil rights."

In a symbolic gesture that sent chills down my spine, Mr. Jagland placed the Nobel Peace Prize diploma on the empty seat reserved for Liu Xiaobo. This was followed by a solemn standing ovation for Liu.

Make no mistake: The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was place on an empty chair, but the message echoed from the City Hall in Oslo to Chinese authories was loud and clear. Violation of fundamental human rights  and freedoms in China and beyond is unacceptable and undermines ecomonic growth. It's important to combine economic development and civil rights.

Yes, it's true that China is an economic powerhouse. But keep in mind that it's also true that human rights and civil liberties in the "People's Republic" is nothing to write home about.

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