Monday February 8, 2010

Chinese Human-Rights Crusaders Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 8, 2010 ( – A bipartisan group of Congressmen have nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three stalwart Chinese human rights activists who have suffered enormously for championing the religious, political, and natural rights of Chinese citizens. Two nominees have been persecuted specifically for fighting China’s brutal policy of forced abortion and sterilizations under the “one-child” policy.

On behalf of the seven U.S. lawmakers, New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith sent a letter to Thorbjorn Jagland, Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Norway, nominating human rights advocates Chen Guangcheng, Gao Zhisheng, and Liu Xiaobo for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Under the committee’s rules, representatives of national legislatures may nominate individuals for the prestigious award.

“These human rights advocates are making a signal contribution to peace,” the Congressmen wrote. “One of the most crucial factors determining whether the twenty-first century will be peaceful will be China’s internal development – whether China recognizes its citizens’ human rights and their desire to live in a democratic state ruled by law, or persists in non-representative government and repression.”

“By jointly awarding Chen, Gao, and Liu the Nobel Peace Prize, you would not only recognize their contributions to peace, but you would further inspire millions of Chinese whose hearts resonate with the ideals these three figures have heroically articulated,” the letter stated.

Chen Guangcheng is a blind self-taught lawyer, who took the burden upon himself to defend local Chinese peasant women from forced sterilization and their children from forced abortion by local government authorities.

Although Beijing now has an official policy against forced abortions and sterilizations under the “one-child” policy, investigations reveal that local authorities routinely ignore the directive in order to fulfill Beijing’s population quotas – and that Beijing, in turn, routinely ignores these violations and silences those who expose them.

Chen’s run-in with the Chinese government began after he filed an unprecedented class-action lawsuit against Linyi City health officials. The suit attacked officials for their inhuman treatment of women and their unborn children in the Shangdong province – for what Chen viewed as brutal violations in enforcing the “one-child-policy.”

After enduring a year of house arrest, Chen was sentenced in August 2006 to four years and three months in prison on ludicrous charges of damaging property and disrupting traffic.

In addition, the date for Chen’s trial was altered regularly and suddenly, making it very difficult for his lawyers to coordinate a defense. The most obvious foul play occurred the day before his trial, as the three lawyers on his legal team – one of them a graduate of Yale University – were arrested on the creative charge of stealing a wallet. They were released only after the delay made their involvement in Chen’s trial moot.

Gao Zhisheng, a Beijing attorney committed to defending human rights in China, was one of Chen’s lawyers. On February 4, 2009, Gao went missing under suspicious circumstances and his whereabouts are currently unknown.

In the past, Gao had been tortured horribly by prison officials. In a column for the Washington Post, Gao’s wife, Geng He, revealed that guards subjected him to electric shock, stuck burning cigarettes in his eyes and toothpicks in his genitals during a previous 50-day prison incarceration. Authorities had tossed the human rights lawyer in jail for writing a letter to Congress exposing China’s continued human rights abuses.

Gao’s wife and two children had escaped China and sought asylum in the United States, shortly before Gao disappeared.

(To join an online effort to free Gao Zhisheng, visit:

Geng expressed concern that the government’s brutal treatment of Gao and other lawyers is deterring “the next generation of Chinese lawyers” from championing human rights cases. She said that “China’s lawyers are the country’s only hope for becoming a one-party state where the rule of law prevails, let alone a true democracy,” but was hopeful that China would listen to the United States if forcefully pressed on the issue.

Some are less hopeful: Carl Moeller, head of Open Doors USA, said he believes the chance for the U.S. to influence China has disappeared now because of excessive borrowing and the enormous debt it owes China.

“The American economy has become enslaved to the Chinese banks. It would be economic suicide to make threats now,” Moeller stated earlier in the year.

Liu Xiaobo, the third name offered for the Nobel prize, is the architect of a pro-democracy and human rights manifesto called Charter 08. The charter called for basic freedoms such as freedom of religion, assembly, protection of private property, and the guarantee of rights outlined under the U.N.’s Declaration of Universal Human Rights.

Authorities arrested Liu two days before the Charter’s December 8, 2008 release and charged him with “inciting the subversion of state power.” After declaring him guilty as charged, a Chinese court sentenced Liu on Christmas Day 2009 to 11 years in prison.

Liu is appealing the sentence, and the United States has petitioned for his release.

“These three heroes have stood up for the cause of freedom and human dignity, and they have sacrificed and suffered for their stands,” stated Rep. Smith. “They deserve consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

See related coverage by

US “Sold its Birthright” by Ignoring China Human Rights Abuses for Economic Gain: Report

Prisoners Beat Blind Chinese Activist Exposing Forced Abortion in China

Infanticide, Forced Abortions and Sterilizations in China’s Linyi Province

Forced Abortion Continues in China at Alarming Rate says Latest Report

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