China: independent UN experts urge stepped-up respect for human rights

Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo of China. Photo: VOAnews

11 October 2010 – Four independent United Nations human rights experts today welcomed the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo of China who is currently imprisoned, appealing to the Asian nation to release all people detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

“Liu Xiaobo is a courageous human rights defender who has continuously and peacefully advocated for greater respect for human rights” in China, the experts said in a joint news release.

This year’s Nobel laureate took part in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in the capital, Beijing, in 1989, worked as a professor at Beijing Normal University and co-authored the ‘Charter 08’ document calling for multi-party democracy, they noted.

The experts said that they have expressed concern over the violation of his fundamental human rights for years.

A UN Working Group found his 1997 detention and sentence of re-education through labour for speaking out about China’s one-party political system to be arbitrary.

In December 2009, Mr. Liu was convicted by a Municipal Court in Beijing for “inciting subversion of State power” and sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights.

“Such a harsh sentence for his peaceful activities in drafting and organizing the signing of Charter 08 is a clear violation of international human right standards on the right to freedom of expression,” the experts said today, noting that there were many irregularities in his trial which did not conform to international standards regarding the right to a fair and public hearing.

“On this occasion, we appeal to the Government of the People’s Republic of China to release all persons detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and to respect the spirit of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR], to which the Government is a signatory,” they said.

“We encourage the Government to take the final step and ratify this important international instrument.”

On Friday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced the hope that any differences over the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Liu, which Beijing has opposed, would not detract from promoting the human rights agenda globally or from the prize’s prestige.

“The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo of China is a recognition of the growing international consensus for improving human rights practices and culture around the world,” a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesman said.

“The Secretary-General expresses his sincere hope that any differences on this decision will not detract from advancement of the human rights agenda globally or the high prestige and inspirational power of the Award,” it added.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called Mr. Liu a “very prominent human rights defender” and said advocates like him make an important contribution to China’s development.


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