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.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.
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.
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.