Three persecuted Chinese human rights advocates—Chen Guangcheng, Gao Zhisheng, and Liu Xiaobo—are being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives who are active on human rights issues, Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) announced today.
In a letter to Thorbjorn Jagland, Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Norway, the group wrote that Chen, Gao, and Liu are worthy of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for their valiant human rights work. (Click here to view entire letter.)
“Chen, Gao, and Liu form a trio of activists outstanding for their human rights advocacy in China,” the congressmen wrote. “For years, these three figures have called on their government to substantially improve its human rights record. In so doing they have been remarkable for their patriotism, their civil courage, and the generous tone of their work, which has never sought to divide their country or cause civil conflict, but always to raise the Chinese people’s awareness of their dignity and rights, and to call their government to govern within its constitution, its laws, and the international human rights agreements it has signed. These human rights advocates are making a signal contribution to peace.”
Chen and Gao are human rights lawyers who defend people the Chinese government persecutes for political and religious reasons, including gross abuses in the enforcement of China’s brutal one-child policy. Liu is a leader who has repeatedly called on the Chinese government to recognize the human rights of its citizens, most recently as a leader of the Charter 08 movement, which calls for greater personal and political freedoms in China. Currently, Chen is serving a prison term for his work, Liu is appealing an 11-year sentence to prison, and Gao disappeared under suspicious circumstances more than a year ago.
Smith, senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and Ranking Member of Congressional-Executive Commission on China, was joined by Reps. David Wu (OR-01), Joe Pitts (PA-16), Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11), Bob Inglis (SC-04), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), and Gus Bilarakis (FL-09) in signing the letter.
In the letter, the congressmen note the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s history in awarding prizes despite the strong opposition of oppressive governments like that of China.
“These three heroes have stood up for the cause of freedom and human dignity, and they have sacrificed and suffered for their stands,” said Smith. “They deserve consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize.”