Issue 265: UN Watch Defends Human Rights in China

he Norwegian Nobel Committee has confirmed that U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay has declined to attend the Oslo ceremony this Friday in which the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. As reported just now by Reuters and CNS News (see below), UN Watch is calling on Ms. Pillay to do the right thing and reverse her decision. Yang Jianli, the Chinese democracy activist who will represent Liu Xiaobo at the Nobel ceremony, was a keynote speaker at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights organized by UN Watch with 25 NGOs, and campaigned with UN Watch this year for human rights in China.


U.N. rights chief urges governments to free dissenters

By Robert Evans, Reuters
Dec 8, 2010

The U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay, under fire for declining to attend the Nobel Peace Prize award to a Chinese dissident, called Wednesday for the release of all prisoners jailed for promoting democracy.

[Pillay] is facing criticism for turning down an invitation to Oslo Friday. Her office says she can not go because she is presiding over the rights day ceremonies at the United Nations’ European headquarters in Geneva, to be addressed by campaigners for human rights from around the world.

Geneva-based non-governmental organization U.N. Watch, referring to what diplomats say is strong pressure from Beijing that has led to some 20 countries saying they will not attend the Nobel ceremony, urged her not to “kowtow” to China, which says Liu is a criminal.

Chinese dissidents in the West have accused Pillay of abdicating her responsibilities and newspapers in Europe said her refusal to go reflected U.N. impotence in the face of a major power such as China…

Pillay’s decision may have been dictated by her chief, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, himself under fire from rights groups for not pressing Beijing to free Liu, serving an 11-year sentence on subversion charges.


U.N. Human Rights Chief to Skip Nobel Ceremony; Accused of Caving In to China

Tuesday, December 07, 2010
By Patrick Goodenough

When the Nobel Committee awards its peace prize to an imprisoned Chinese dissident on Friday in Oslo, the U.N.’s top human rights official will not be there….

Liu Xiabo was sentenced last December to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power,” after co-authoring a manifesto calling for political reform.

A fellow Chinese dissident now in exile, Yang Jianli, released an open letter at the weekend critical Pillay and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for not planning to attend the Nobel ceremony…

A Geneva-based advocacy group that monitors the U.N.’s human rights apparatus urged Pillay Monday to reconsider her decision not to attend the event in Oslo.

“Beijing’s powerful U.N. influence should never justify silence or reticence by the world body’s highest officials,” said U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

He rejected the argument that her presence was required in Geneva.

“This is a minor event expected to yield minimal press coverage and world visibility, and she can be easily replaced by Deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang,” he said.

“By contrast, Ms. Pillay’s presence in Oslo would be noticed worldwide and send a powerful signal of accountability to the violators of human rights in China. I fear her planned absence may be sending a contrary signal of impunity.”


UN Watch