House passes resolution calling on China to release new Nobel Peace Prize laureate

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Rep. Chris Smith speaks at a Dec. 7 press conference for his resolution supporting Liu Xiaobo

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a resolution congratulating Chinese political prisoner and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, and calling on China’s government to release him.

Joining an international effort, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in nominating him for the prize. With several co-sponsors, he introduced a congressional resolution congratulating Liu.

“We’re here to call on the Chinese government to release Liu and all of its political and religious prisoners, and to begin the process of democratic reform. And we’re also here to call on the world to bring new light and fresh scrutiny to the Chinese government’s horrific record of human rights abuses,” Rep. Smith said at a Dec. 7 press conference.

“In our nominating letter, we recognized Liu as ‘a visionary leader,’ remarkable for ‘his patriotism, his civic courage, and the generous tone of his work, which has never sought to divide his country or cause civil conflict, but always to raise the Chinese people’s awareness of its dignity and rights, and to call on his government to govern within … the international human rights agreements it has signed’,” he explained.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the award on Oct. 8, citing Liu’s “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” The prize will be officially awarded on Dec. 10 in Oslo.

China has spent the past several weeks pressuring countries to boycott the award ceremony. While 44 countries have announced that they will attend, 19 have said that they will not be sending a representative to the event.

At the end of his 2009 trial for “inciting subversion of state power,” Liu stated “I have no enemies and no hatred.” He expressed respect for the police, the prosecutors and the judges who prosecuted him.

“Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience,” he said. “Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation’s progress toward freedom and democracy.”

Liu expressed hope he could transcend the Chinese government’s hostility with “utmost goodwill” and “dispel hatred with love.”

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights. Liu has said that the sentence violates China’s constitution and fundamental human rights.

Rep. Smith said Dec. 8 that his resolution has “frank language” about the Chinese government’s treatment of political prisoners and its censorship. It also protests China’s “campaign of defamation” against Liu, while rejecting its insistence that his imprisonment is a “purely internal matter.”

“(T)his is one of the strongest resolutions the House has passed on human rights in China in many years,” Rep. Smith said.

Jeff Sagnip, Rep. Smith’s public policy director, told EWTN news in an e-mail that the resolution passed “overwhelmingly” and that outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported it.

The Chinese government’s human rights issues also include forced abortion and religious freedom restrictions. The government has recently cracked down on Protestant “house churches.” It has also pressured Catholic bishops to attend the state-run Patriotic Catholic Association and has appointed bishops without the approval of the Pope.

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