October 8, 2010 / 11:10 AM / 9 years ago

Factbox: Governments and activists react to Liu's Peace Prize

LONDON (Reuters) - Jailed Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for decades of non-violent struggle for human rights.

Following are reactions from governments, activists and human rights campaigners around the world:

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu:

“The awarding of the peace prize by the committee to this person completely contradicts its aims and is an obscenity against the peace prize.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, last year’s winner, urged China to release Liu as soon as possible.

“Over the last 30 years, China has made dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty,” he said in a statement.

“But this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected.”

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso:

“The decision of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is a strong message of support to all those around the world who, sometimes with great personal sacrifice, are struggling for freedom and human rights. These values are at the core of the European Union and the decision of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee highlighted their importance all over the world.”

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters the award was “courageous,” adding:

“I don’t think it will have an impact on diplomatic relations (with China).

“This isn’t some diplomatic procedure ... between the European Union and another country. It sends out a clear message to the world that standing up for freedom and human rights is supported and it will encourage others to continue their work.”

The Dalai Lama, Peace Prize winner in 1989:

“Awarding the Peace Prize to him (Liu) is the international community’s recognition of the increasing voices among the Chinese people in pushing China toward political, legal and constitutional reforms.”

Lech Walesa, Polish former democracy activist and president, and winner of the 1983 Peace Prize:

“I am happy that finally the world will have to decide whether it stands behind Western-style values or allows violation of human rights ...

“If we are seriously thinking about globalization — and globalization without China is impossible — we have to help China join the common path of values. With the Nobel Prize, we’re starting a march in this direction.”

Czech ex-dissident and former president Vaclav Havel, one of those who nominated Liu for the prize:

“Liu Xiaobo is an example of precisely the kind of committed citizen to whom such an award belongs ...

“Praise is due also to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for its courage, with which it did not give in to Chinese warnings and did not put economic interest above human rights.”

Rupert Colville, spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay:

“There are many countries around the world where many people like Liu Xiaobo, perhaps less prominent than him, day in and day out take big risks to basically say what they think about improvements needed in their societies.”

Amnesty International:

“This award can only make a real difference if it prompts more international pressure on China to release Liu, along with the numerous other prisoners of conscience languishing in Chinese jails for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

France’s Foreign Ministry:

“France, like the European Union, expressed its concern as soon as he (Liu) was arrested and has called several times for him to be freed. France repeats this call, as well as its attachment to freedom of speech all over the world.

“The Nobel committee, which makes its choices independently, has sent a strong message to everyone fighting peacefully for the promotion and the protection of human rights.”

British Foreign Ministry:

“The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr Liu Xiaobo shines a spotlight on the situation of human rights defenders worldwide ...

“We continue to call for his release and to champion freedom of expression in all countries.”

Nicholas Bequelin, senior researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters:

“It’s a victory for human rights everywhere, not only in China but a victory for all the courageous Chinese dissidents, activists, lawyers and human rights defenders who have continued to stand up to tyranny for all these years. It’s a recognition of their efforts.”

Pu Zhiqiang, Chinese rights lawyer and friend of Liu:

“Liu Xiaobo is not very widely known in China now. Once people hear about this prize, they will want to know more about him and his ideas will become better known.

“Most Chinese should be happy about this. Even people within the Communist Party today are not very happy with the current situation. Mid-level cadres are in their 40s and 50s; they’ve been through the economic opening, they’ve been through the Tiananmen Square protests. They too have opinions about how to respond to Chinese society, how to face up to today’s conditions.”

Cui Weiping, a social critic and professor at Beijing Film Academy:

“I’m overjoyed. I scarcely dare to believe it. I had to call all my friends just to confirm it.

“I think in the short term it will be hard to see this having any effect on the human rights situation in China. But it will be an enormous encouragement for people, especially for the young. It will let them know what you can achieve, that sacrifice is worth it.

“I think the government will try to suppress this news, but I hope they don’t see (the prize) as pressure on them. I hope they can view it as a motivation for change. The world is paying attention to China’s democracy.”

Ai Weiwei, prominent contemporary Chinese artist and activist:

“Today’s Internet will spread this news fast. We’ve already put it on Twitter, people will paste it elsewhere. People who want to know will find out.

“This government has refused to listen for over 60 years. It isn’t any overly sensitive government, it’s a government of people who refuse to be rational. They always come out with the same line. Today they realize that no-one cares about their feelings any more. Society wants to move on, it wants to change.

“There’s a demand for China to become more democratic, more free in the future.”

Chen Ziming, Tiananmen-era dissident and academic accused of helping to organize the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing:

“It’s long-awaited news.

“For the world’s debate on justice and China’s democratization, this gives us all a great encouragement.”

Reporting by Reuters bureau; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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