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Beijing dismisses calls to free Liu Xiaobo

Appeals to free laureate by more than 134 Nobel winners, hundreds of activists fall on deaf ears

Beijing dismisses calls to free Liu Xiaobo
Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia reporter, Hong Kong

December 6, 2012

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The Chinese government has dismissed a letter signed by 134 Nobel laureates calling for the release of 2010 Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

“China is firmly opposed to the outside world interfering in China's judicial sovereignty and internal affairs in any form,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told a press briefing yesterday.

“Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to imprisonment by China's judicial authorities for violating the law," he said. Liu was jailed in for 11 years in 2009 for alleged subversion.

The Nobel laureates along with hundreds of Chinese activists had called on Communist Party secretary-general Xi Jinping in two separate letters to free Liu.

Both letters were made public on Tuesday ahead of Human Rights Day which falls on Sunday and just before Chinese writer Mo Yan receives his Nobel Prize for literature..

In their letter, the 134 laureates also called for the release of Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, who is under house arrest.

“We respectfully urge you to release Dr Liu Xiaobo, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and his wife, Liu Xia,” the letter said.

No government “can restrict freedom of thought and association without having a negative effect on important human innovation,” they stressed.

Among the laureates who signed the letter were Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.  

In the other letter 297 mainland intellectuals, writers, activists and others petitioned Xi, the Politburo and the National People’s Congress to start legal proceedings to rectify the wrongful conviction of Liu and to stop isolating his wife.

It also called for the release of all those jailed because of their political views, expression of ideas and religious faith, and demanded an end to the surveillance of dissidents.

“The existence of prisoners of conscience does not help China establish an image of a responsible country. Ending this situation is an important criterion for China to move toward political civilization,” they said.

“China is facing many complex problems. Reform is not easy. Let’s do it together,” they added.

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