Human right activist and Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo died on July 13, 2017. I’ve reposted something I wrote in 2010 for the Watson Institute’s Global Conversation blog.
Dr. Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize: China, Democracy, and Human Rights
The photo shows Dr. Liu Xiaobo (left) and Xu Wenli at Xu’s home in Beijing (April 24, 1995).
In January 2010, Brown University’s Xu Wenli wrote to the Nobel Committee, nominating Liu Xiaobo for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In the video, Xu Wenli speaks of his belief in universal values of equality, freedom, and democracy. The video is one of a series designed for use in high school classrooms with an activity produced by the Choices Education Program called Xu Wenli and the China Democracy Party.
Xu Wenli came to Brown’s Watson Institute in the spring of 2003. His story before he arrived at Brown is both harrowing and inspiring. One of China’s most recognized pro-democracy advocates, Mr. Xu spent 16 years in prison in China for his activities as a dissident. He was a leader in the Democracy Wall movement from 1979 to 1981, edited the samizdat-style journal April Fifth Forum, and played a major role in establishing the Beijing-Tianjin branch of the China Democracy Party. Mr. Xu’s health suffered while in prison. In reaction to his declining condition, international human rights groups, the U.S. ambassador to China, and Western officials called for his release. The Chinese government relented and released him on medical grounds in December 2002.
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo has focused attention once again on China’s human rights record.
But how long is our attention span? Will the prize make a difference on the ground in China? What are the prospects for the advancement of human rights in China?