Friday, October 9, 2009

Chinese Human Rights advocates denied Nobel Peace Prize - Thanks Obama!


Hu Jia with his wife Zeng Jinyan


Gao Zhisheng with his son

After going through a bit of shock and disbelief at the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama, I began to suspect that there had to be more to this story. After I regained my senses it occurred to me that the obvious choice for a Nobel Peace Prize would be one or more Chinese Human Rights advocates.

My suspicions were confirmed when I did a search to find out who were the favored candidates before the selection was announced. This excerpt is from an article titled "Nobel Peace Prize May Go to Chinese Activist, Angering Beijing" published just a few days ago on Oct 6.
Two Chinese dissidents are among this year's Nobel Peace Prize contenders, prompting moves by leaders in Beijing to pre-emptively counter possible negative attention on their human rights record.

Gao Zhisheng and Hu Jia are deemed top candidates by Oslo's International Peace Research Institute, which handicaps competition for the award that will be announced Oct. 10.
[...]
A decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo to honor Hu or Gao may increase tensions between the West and the government of the world's most populous nation.

``I hope the committee will make the right decision and not challenge the original purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize or hurt Chinese people's feelings,'' said Liu Jianchao, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, on Sept. 25. The prize should go to those who ``truly contributed'' to world peace, he said.

Stein Toennesson, the International Peace Research Institute's director, said the prize ``will be awarded to someone active in defending human rights'' because the Dec. 10 bestowing ceremony coincides with the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Nobel committee may have decided against honoring Chinese dissidents in recent years to avoid offending the government and encourage improvements before this year's Beijing Olympics, Toennesson said on his institute's Web Site.
[...]
Gao, born in 1964, is a lawyer who has protested the treatment of members of the Falun Gong movement, Toennesson said. On Sept. 22, 2007, ``he was taken away from his home,'' where he had been under house arrest, ``and has not been heard of since,'' he said.

Hu, 35, has been outspoken on environmental and AIDS matters and more recently has criticized the treatment of Gao, Toennesson said. After addressing the European Parliament via audio in November, Hu was detained Dec. 27 and sentenced to prison for 3 1/2 years in April for subversion, Xinhua News Agency reported at the time.
[...]
Njaal Hoestmaelingen, a researcher at the Oslo-based Norwegian Center for Human Rights, said picking a Chinese dissident may be counterproductive to the cause.

``The Chinese reaction may be to make such work far more difficult, and make it more difficult for Norway and other Western countries to collaborate with China on promoting human rights there,'' Hoestmaelingen said.
So instead of angering China by promoting the cause of Human Rights on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Nobel Peace Prize committee decided to go with the totally ridiculous award of the prize to Obama. Obama should be ashamed. If he had any dignity, he would refuse to accept the prize which he is clearly not qualified to receive.

This is just another example of the West kowtowing to the fascist Chinese government. Meanwhile Gao Zhisheng and Hu Jia are left to rot in Chinese prisons without the international support that they deserve for their courageous dedication to the well-being of others.

It's time to stop pretending that if the West ignores the totalitarian nature of the Chinese government that it will somehow change on its own. It's time to demand that China meet the minimum standards of openness and democracy in its society. Otherwise China should not be able to receive the benefits of integration into the world's economy.

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama of Tibet in 1989 was a step in the right direction. I'm afraid that twenty years later, the world has taken a major step backward.

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6 comments:

nokilli said...

This may be completely off-topic and relying on a popular culture that is familiar to me but to which others who read this blog are unaware, but Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize makes me think of a scene from a movie I like called "Dragonslayer".

It's about a wizard, and his apprentice, and a girl he likes and who likes him. And a dragon. After a bit of plot and dialogue, the wizard(s) defeat the dragon, at great expense, only to see a minor character, the King, claim victory over the beast and declare himself "Dragonslayer".

It's a false honor and it disgusts not only because of the lie it depends on, but what it does to the morale of those who might next be called upon to slay "the Dragon".

The enormous sacrifice made by human rights advocates in China is belittled in very much the same way by awarding this prize to someone like Obama who has thus far done nothing to advance the prospects of peace in this world, indeed, who it can be argued has done the exact opposite.

Frank Hope said...

You are right on topic. Thank you for this excellent allegory.

As you say this "false honor" is abhorrent. Even Obama's most avid supporters should not be pleased by this unearned award. While Obama's opponents have begun to use this award to attack Obama's credibility.

In the history of the Nobel Prize there has been just one recipient that has declined it - that was Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho who was awarded along with Kissinger in 1973 for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Obama could make real history by declining the prize, but that will never happen.

Obama, like most politicians, is indeed a psychopath in the sense that I described in my article "Twilight and breaking dawn of civilizations".

" 'Psychopaths go through life knowing that they are completely different from other people. They quickly learn to hide their lack of empathy, while carefully studying others’ emotions so as to mimic normalcy while cold-bloodedly manipulating the normals.'

Does that sound a little like a description of a typical politician - cold-blooded, calculating, without feelings of remorse. Lacking a conscience."

Kate said...

I agree that the Chinese human rights activists are deserving of the prize, but it's not like President Obama nominated himself instead of them or somehow stole it away from them. Direct your anger at the Nobel prize committee if you disagree with their choice.

Frank Hope said...

@Kate

In defense of my title, I only have a few words in which to express an idea. I felt it important to have "Obama" included in the title. I could have come up with a much longer title that included "Obama" and better expressed my thoughts. That's true. I also felt it important to get this posted quickly. Blame it on my [non-existent] editors.

Anyway, do you have a better suggestion for a title? One that is ten words or less an clearly expresses the ideas expressed in the article?

I think I do make it implicitly clear in my article that the responsibility belongs to the Peace Prize committee. Anyway, that should be obvious.

Of course the US has lots of political power and could lobby for a particular winner. Do you think that Carter or Kissinger won in years past without US lobbying?

In this case its clear that China won the lobbying battle. Obama could certainly have sent a clear signal to the committee that he did not want to be considered, and I'm sure that would have been respected. But obviously, he didn't.

It had been reported in the press that Obama was under consideration, but he wasn't given much of a chance of winning. There was already talk that he was a favorite for next year.

See AP article titled "China dissidents top Nobel Peace Prize speculation".

Kate said...

Hey Frank, I understand about the title limitations. I'll admit that I was mostly directing my comments at the other comments that compared Obama to a mythical king who actively stole credit from those who deserve it. I guess I should have kept my comments to the original post and not the follow up comments.

I should also add that the post brings up a very good and important point (actually several) including the fact that there are others who deserve the award more and the reasons they were snubbed are political and therefore diminish the meaning of the prize.

Frank Hope said...

Hey Kate. That was nice of you to clarify your thoughts. I tend to overreact to criticism so thanks for being so understanding.

Actually though the more I think about it, the more I realize that Obama has done nothing to promote Human Rights in China. So it is doubly damaging to people like Hu Jia and Gao Zhisheng that he received the Peace award.

It seems to me that Obama is really quietly collaborating with China in this. Of course they will say that they are engaging in quiet diplomacy and that if they are too open in their criticisms of China then that will have an opposite affect.

Really? I don't remember Reagan quietly criticizing the USSR. And we don't quietly criticize Iran. When the US really wants something to get done, we use all our political, economic and military muscle.

What do you think? Should Obama have met with the Dalai Lama? Is there something more he could be doing to promote Human Rights in China?