Lawmakers take Liu campaign to world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 October, 2010, 12:00am

Pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong are taking the campaign for the release of jailed mainland dissident Liu Xiaobo to the world stage, inviting Nobel Prize laureates from different countries to issue a unified call for his freedom.

The move comes amid diplomatic tension between Beijing and Western nations since the Norwegian Nobel Committee this month announced the award of the peace prize to Liu, who is serving an 11-year sentence in Liaoning province for subversion.

Beijing has denounced the award as 'a desecration' and has subsequently cancelled several official meetings with Norway.

In Hong Kong 23 pan-democrat legislative councillors have signed a joint letter to President Hu Jintao , urging the central government to free the imprisoned writer so that he can travel to Norway on December 10 to receive his prize.

Through labour unions and rights groups in other countries, the lawmakers are inviting past winners of the peace prize to join the petition. They are sending out letters to Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Lech Walesa, and the Dalai Lama.

'We believe more voices from the international community will help exert pressure on Beijing,' said Lee Cheuk-yan, of the Confederation of Trade Unions. 'We hope past winners can issue a joint declaration calling for Liu's release when they meet for the 11th World Summit of the Nobel Peace Laureates in Hiroshima next month.'

All 60 legislators had been invited to sign the letter to Hu, but there was no response from those in the pro-government camp, Lee added.

Given the slim chance that he would be freed early, Liu is reported to have asked his wife, Liu Xia , to collect the prize on his behalf but she has been under house arrest in Beijing since the announcement.

The pan-democrats have created a page on the social networking website Facebook, inviting members of the public to join the campaign. By 8:30pm yesterday, more than 1,200 people have indicated their support.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China will also launch a street signature campaign in Mong Kok tomorrow.