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Nobel Awarded to Jailed Chinese Human Rights Activist Liu Xiaobo

Clara Heyworth 9 December 2010

The jailed Chinese human rights activist and writer Liu Xiaobo has been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison last year after spearheading a petition calling for freedom of assembly, expression and religion in China. For the first time since the 1930s, a representative of the winner is not on hand to collect the award. Democracy Now! broadcast live from the ceremony.

Liu Xiaobo's "My Self-Defense" features in The Verso Book of Dissent:

Whether in China or elsewhere in the world, in antiquity or in the modern and contemporary era, literary inquisition through the criminalization of speech is an act against humanity and human rights ... The first emperor of the Qin dynasty achieved the unification of China, but the tyranny of his "burning books and burying Confucius scholars alive" lived on in infamy. Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty was a man of great talent and vision, but his decision to have the Grand Historian Sima Qian castrated brought him blame and shame.

In terms of objective effect, it is more dangerous to stop people's mouths than to dam a river. The tall prison walls cannot hold back free expression. A regime cannot establish its legitimacy by suppressing different political views, nor can it maintain lasting peace and stability through literary inquisition. For the problems that come from the barrel of a pen can only be resolved by the barrel of a pen.

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