The Corner

Heroes Who Need Help

A group of 30 congressmen has asked President Obama to bring up a couple of human-rights cases when he next meets with Hu Jintao, the Chinese boss. That will be in November, at a “G-20” summit in Seoul. For a press release on the congressmen’s admonition, go here.

The cases are those of Liu Xiaobo and Gao Zhisheng. These are two of the greatest dissidents and democracy activists in all of China. And, of course, they are in prison. Unspeakable things have been done to them. I have written about these two men extensively. To know them is to be in awe of them.

As you are well aware, the Obama administration really doesn’t do Chinese human rights (or human rights in general). The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, signaled this early. In February 2009, she said that the administration would not let human rights “interfere” with such urgent issues as “the global climate-change crisis.” In awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel chairman cited his “cooperation with Beijing.”

And you remember that the Obama administration, through an assistant secretary of state, Michael Posner, expressed American guilt to the Chinese over Arizona’s new immigration law. I believe that was one of the lowest things that an American administration has done in decades.

I mentioned the Nobel Peace Prize: The 2010 winner will be announced on Friday. A lot of people want Liu Xiaobo to win. He is the leader of the Charter 08 movement, a movement modeled on Charter 77 — which was, of course, Vaclav Havel’s movement in Czechoslovakia. Havel is backing Liu for the Nobel prize. And 120 Chinese intellectuals just sent a letter to the Nobel Committee, urging the selection of Liu.

For many years — at least 25 — Chinese dissidents have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and they are always among the “frontrunners.” Wei Jingsheng was once in this position. But they never win — at least they haven’t so far. The closest the committee came was when they awarded the Dalai Lama, in 1989. I, personally, would like to see Liu and Gao win the prize jointly.

Do you know what Armando Valladares, the Cuban human-rights hero, and former political prisoner, said to me? I’ve reported this on this site before. He said, “We would have won two or three Nobel prizes already” if the Cuban dictatorship were right-wing instead of left-wing. I think that’s true.


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