(November 5, 2010) Statement by dissident writer Dai Qing, calling on Chinese officials to release Liu Xiaobo and announcing that she will attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, even as the Chinese government pursues a crackdown on the country’s critics and activists.
A letter to friends from Liu Xia, who is currently under house arrest, came to me through the Internet.
Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xia’s husband, recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, but the government of China is not happy.
This reminded me that the Nazi authorities and the Burmese military regime were also displeased when German journalist Carl von Ossietzky and Burmese social activist Aung San Suu Kyi won the peace prize. When the news was announced they, like Liu, were both in custody; Hitler demanded that Ossietzky decline the award, an order he refused; and though he was dying, no one could accept the prize for him. Aung San Suu Kyi was also forbidden from attending the ceremony, but at the last minute, her husband and sons received the Peace Prize on her behalf.
The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony will be held on December 10 in Oslo. Will the Chinese authorities temporarily relax the controls on Xiaobo – as Hitler and Göring ultimately did in the von Ossietzky case by releasing him from a concentration camp? Or will the Chinese authorities close one eye, watching his relatives go to the ceremony – as the Burmese Junta did on Aung San’s case?
Like many Chinese citizens, I certainly hope that my country would share the contemporary view on “human rights” with the world; I also hope that Premier Wen would honor his words on universal values with deeds in one or two real cases. No matter how you may reason it, wouldn’t I be right to argue that our dignified People’s Republic shouldn’t compare to Nazi Germany or the Burmese military government?
Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen, you two may not agree with Xiaobo’s award. So be it. There were so many people all over the world who did not agree with Obama winning the award last year. But since the award to Xiaobo is now a fact, there is nothing wrong with showing a little generosity and releasing Liu Xia from her house arrest to allow her to go to Oslo to receive the award on behalf of her husband. By doing so, you would be making a conciliatory gesture towards the world and, as you have said so often, paving the way for the harmonious development of China’s future.
Unfortunately, the situation has not eased since Liu Xia’s “open invitation to the friends of Liu Xiaobo” was disseminated online.
In her letter, Liu Xia said that “the chances for Xiaobo or me to go to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony are slim,” and so she made a grand list of 140 names, and “openly invited Xiaobo’s fellow friends to attend the Peace Prize Award Ceremony.”
This eclectic list nicely reflects Liu Xiaobo’s all-encompassing world view: Li Rui, Zhang Yimou, Ding Zilin, Wang Shi, Han Han… what a selection of celebrities from all walks of life whose paths would otherwise never cross each other.
But I notice Xu Youyu, a true chum of Xiaobo, was missing from the list. What a pity that her house arrest has caused this omission. I can feel for her. Happily, I see two points in common among those 140 people: First, they all are friends of Xiaobo who are delighted about his award; second, they all are Chinese citizens living in China.
On the grounds upon which the Nobel Committee awarded the prize to Liu Xiaobo, I think that those most deserving to share the glory should be Zhou Duo and Zhang Zuhua. Zhou Duo was the one who on the night of June 3rd, 1989 in Beijing held aloft a small white flag in representing Liu Xiaobo and three others, and walked toward the Golden Water Bridge in Tiananmen Square to negotiate with a heavily armed colonel. As for Zhang Zuhua, he is the co-author of the “2008 Charter.”
In the past 20 years, how many Chinese people with noble ideals have been persecuted or detained? People like Hu Jia, Chen Guangcheng, Gao Zhisheng… And how many people have endured extreme emotional distress for calling for a better society? People like the Tiananmen mothers, and the handicapped victims of the June 4th crackdown.
And can we know how many people have tenaciously stood firm at their posts though they lost their reputation and endured persecution? People like Wu Si, Liu Suli, Cui Weiping, Ran Yunfei, Yao Lifa…
In fact, in the pursuit of freedom, the Chinese people have suffered for much longer than just the past two decades. The Grand List by Liu Xia has actually filled a gap in the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s recognition of the Chinese people’s struggle, because her list honors those freedom fighters who began the push for human rights in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70’s: Li Rui is now in his 90s, and Li Pu, Du Guang, Yu Haocheng are in their 70s, as are Tie Liu, Bao Tong…. They should all go to Oslo in their few remaining years to witness how the world supports their struggle.
Now Liu Xia’s Grand List is flying through cyberspace. Although the seats in the award ceremony hall are limited, people still hope that if Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia are ultimately not allowed to go, the Chinese authorities will allow their comrades to go.
I was honored to be included in Liu Xia’s Long List of “Xiaobo’s fellow friends.” In all fairness, I cannot compare with anyone else on the list in terms of my contribution or hardship in China’s struggle for modernization. I also cannot compare with the others in my personal relationship with Xiaobo: our face-to-face contact could be counted in only dozens of hours, not to mention that I have also written articles critical of him.
Like many Chinese citizens, it is painful and sad for me to see China’s foreign relations leading to so many conflicts. Compared with our current territorial and resource challenges and other pressing concerns, Xiaobo’s matter would seem to have an easy resolution: Release Xiaobo. Tell the world that in China, any citizen is free to propose ideas on national affairs to the government. If Liu Yunshan (China’s propaganda chief) believes this would cause the collapse of heaven and earth, then the authorities could just release Liu Xia, whose life for the past many years has been devoted to her poetry and photography.
If none of this takes place, there is still more than a month before the awards ceremony. The closest friends and comrades of the Laureate, who have been with him through all of the hardship, should be allowed to go to Oslo. But if the authorities ignore all these calls and no one on Liu Xia’s list is permitted to go abroad through the proper procedures, it happens that I am in Canada now for an academic conference.
To comfort Xiaobo in prison and Liu Xia under house arrest, and for all who are on Liu Xia’s list – those who are either under police surveillance or in custody or warned to behave during a forced “tea conversation with the police,” or worse, those “wearing a wig” (a term to describe those hooded and taken away by the security police) – then I shall tell the world that it is not true that no Chinese citizen who fights against authoritarianism will be able to attend the grand ceremony in Oslo. If necessary, I will go there to fulfill my duty to my friend.
I have just received mail from my home, where I learned that the authorities have sent someone to show me their warm regards. I asked a family member to hand this article to the authorities, and I sincerely expect them to report it to their supervisors – as they reported on my activities over the past 20 years. Then at last, perhaps, we will hear good news saying the government has made a gracious decision to allow the most deserving on Liu Xia’s list to travel to Oslo, and leave me, the least deserving person on her list, free to return home to China.
- Translation of Liu Xia’s Letter
- Gagging to be free
- Celebrating dissent: Chinese dissident wins Nobel Peace prize
- Liu Xiaobo, Chinese democracy advocate sentenced to 11 years
- Liu Xiaobo’s conviction killed the constitution, Bao Tong says
- Jailed China earthquake activist’s appeal declined
- China’s guest of honour status at fair debated by Chinese writers