Rights organizations urges UN to attend Liu’s Nobel award ceremony
Dec. 9, 2010
New York – International human rights organizations on Thursday asked the top UN human rights defender to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Liu is this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate and is serving an 11-year prison sentence for campaigning for human rights in China. Chinese authorities barred him and relatives from traveling to Oslo, where the award ceremony will be held on Friday.
Friday is also UN Human Rights Day, which each December 10 is an occasion to renew support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, was invited to Oslo, but declined apparently under pressure from China not to attend. China has called on governments to boycott the ceremony. Neither Pillay nor UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for Liu’s release since he was named the Nobel Peace Prize recipient in October.
In Geneva, a total of 24 human rights groups signed a petition urging Pillay to attend the Oslo ceremony.
‘We urge the high commissioner to go to Oslo, attend the award ceremony, and convene a press conference that will spotlight the plight of the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens who are systematically denied the basic guarantees of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’ said the petition.
The Geneva-based rights group UN Watch said the petitioners include the World Movement for Democracy from the United States, SOS Racisme of France, and activist organizations from India, Venezuela and Liberia.
‘The world spotlight in Oslo tomorrow will be exceptional – it’s a golden opportunity that the UN should not squander,’ said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
Neuer said Yang Jianli, the exiled Chinese dissident who represents Liu’s family, has strongly criticized the UN’s absence in Oslo.
The petitioners said, ‘We fully reject China’s attempt to describe this courageous champion of human rights as ‘subversive and criminal,’ and its denunciation of the award as an ‘obscenity’. On the contrary, no award could be more fitting on international Human Rights Day.’
Pillay said in remarks for the UN Human Rights Day issued in Geneva: ‘Every year thousands of human rights defenders are harassed, abused, unjustly jailed and murdered. Often their families are targeted as well.’
‘That is why, Human Rights Day is dedicated to human rights defenders and their magnificent battle to stop discrimination,’ she said.
Pillay cited Russian rights advocate Natalia Estemirova, who was kidnapped and murdered in 2009; Rogelio Martinez of Colombia, who was gunned down this year; and Gennadiy Pavluk, a Kyrgyz journalist who fell to his death from a high rise building with hands and legs bound a year ago.
Pillay said one positive development this year was the release from house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in November by the military government in Myanmar.