It was only last year that the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided in all its wisdom to award its peace prize to the recently inaugurated president of a nation that has ensanguined the opening decade of the twenty-first century with aggressions against Afghanistan and Iraq – the latter aggression indisputably based on a contrived pretext. President Barack Obama indicated his respect for his peace prize by ramping up the military action in Afghanistan and by mendaciously avoiding his promised military pull-out from Iraq. Subsequently, Obama supported military coups in Honduras and Ecuador — not what one expects from a peace laureate. The Nobel Committee was left with egg on its face.1 It was not the first time, and it will probably not be the last time.
Obviously – despite whatever the original intentions of Alfred Nobel were – the Nobel Peace Prize has been serving another purpose than promoting men (and with the 12 exceptions women) of “peace.” This year, 2010, is the first time a Chinese has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite having one-fifth of the world’s population, Chinese have garnered only 0.08 percent of Nobel Peace Prizes awarded. This year’s award goes to a Chinese who is critical of the system in China.
Liu wound up imprisoned last year after calling for freedom of assembly, expression, and religion in China. Of course, Chinese citizens should enjoy all these freedoms.
Chinese citizens will not express their feelings openly about Liu, if they have even heard of him, or about freedoms. My impression is that most Chinese are more concerned about growing their economy and alleviating poverty than documents on human rights.
So when Democracy Now! turns to a questionable NGO such as Human Rights Watch,2 extreme skepticism should greet any pronouncements forthcoming.
Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, claimed, “… it’s a very big day for people in China, because in recognizing Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Committee has decided to highlight the concerns for the rule of law, democracy and human rights, that Liu Xiaobo has fought for for the last twenty years.”3
It is amusing – and of concern — how western media, even media claiming to be independent and progressive, turn to Americans to determine how the people of another country feel instead of asking people from the country in question.4
Is Worden a representative or spokesperson for the Chinese people? Whereby does she then determine what is a big day for Chinese people?
Liu has promulgated a Charter 08 calling for changes in politics and human rights – and entrenchment of property rights! (as if property had rights) — in China.
A Taiwanese News Channel quotes Charter 08 on “the absence of political reforms ‘has restrained the development of the Chinese nation and the progress of human civilization.’ Wen says without political reform as protection, the achievements of economic reforms will slip away.”5
As a Chinese citizen Liu should have the right to criticize his government. He should not be jailed for this. However, that does not mean that Liu — and his 300 to 7200 Charter 08 signatories — represent the will of Chinese people.
Charter 08 appears amiable to most hard right-wing governments. Unless every charter item is defined scrutably, clearly, and without resort to equivocation, the document would have little effect on human rights. Why should it? Why is this Charter 08 needed when China is an original signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? I have never seen this discussed. Besides, which country abides by the UDHR? And if signatories to the UDHR do not abide by the human rights enshrined, why should Charter 08 be any different? So what then is the purpose of the Charter 08?
Why is it that the Nobel Peace Committee would focus on human rights in China? Why not award the prize to the Cuban Five and highlight human rights abuses in the United States, especially after the Norwegian committee was humiliated by 2009 recipient Obama.
China is predictably upset by the Norwegian committee’s “meddling.”6
Chinese writer Lin Yutang, found pacifism to be quintessential to the Chinese character. Of the people he wrote, “[Chinese] hate war, and always will hate war. Good people never fight in China. For good iron is not made into nails, and good men are not made soldiers.”7
Yet, the Norwegian committee has seen “good” Chinese people, until now, as undeserving of Nobel Peace Prize recognition.8
The Norwegian committee has overwhelmingly recognized white, male Westerners. From reading the list of Nobel Peace Prize recipients, a Martian might deduce that warmongers were primarily non-white, female Easterners. However, it is upon the world’s most egregious war machine, the US, that the Norwegian committee has bestowed four of its war criminal presidents with Nobel Peace Prizes.
One might surmise that the Nobel Peace Prize is a propaganda tool of western imperialism.9 If so, then progressives who really desire peace and equality in the world would do better to ignore the machinations of the Norwegian committee and reporting by gullible “progressivist” media.
China certainly has a way to go before becoming a bastion of human rights, but Norway and its western allies are not beyond reproach when it comes to human rights abuses. A more principled approach would be to recognize one’s own shortcomings first and correct them before directing criticism at others — especially for what appear to be dubious ends.
- See Kim Petersen “Audacity in Norway,” Dissident Voice, 9 October 2009. [↩]
- See Kim Petersen and B. J. Sabri, “American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery?: Part II: Is Supporting the Troops, Patriotism, Dementia, or Moral Dissolution?” Dissident Voice, 27 August 2005. [↩]
- “Jailed Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize,” Democracy Now! 8 October 2010. [↩]
- See Kim Petersen, “Independent Media as Mouthpiece for Centers of Power,” Dissident Voice, 28 May 2010. [↩]
- I cannot access information on Charter 08 in China because of internet blockage. But I manged to slip by to get to Y.F. Low, “United Daily News: Difference between Liu Xiaobo and Wen Jiabao,” Focus Taiwan News Channel, 9 October 2010. [↩]
- “Beijing blasts Nobel Peace Prize meddling,” People’s Online Daily, 9 October 2010. [↩]
- Lin Yutang, My Country and My People (Foreign language Teaching and Research Press, 2000). [↩]
- It must be noted that Tibet’s 14th Dalai Lama was also awarded a Nobel peace Prize in 1989. Tibet is nominally a territory of China, but the Dalai Lama is considered a separatist CIA-funded rogue by Chinese authorities. As for human rights and self-determination for Tibetans, see Kim Petersen, “The Tibet Question: Is Self-Determination, as a Principle, Absolute?” Dissident Voice, 29 April 2008. [↩]
- Vietnamese resistance leader Le Duc Tho had the gumption to refuse the Nobel Peace Prize because there was no peace in his homeland. That did not, however, hinder co-winner, then US secretary-of-state, Henry Kissinger from grabbing his prize. [↩]