Friday, December 10, 2010

2010 Nobel Peace Prize

In one of her last official acts as speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) traveled to Oslo, Norway, to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for a jailed Chinese human-rights activist.

The outgoing speaker made the trip as part of an official delegation representing Liu Xiaobo, the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize who was jailed last year for writing an online petition prodding the Chinese government to improve its human-right record and pursue democratic reforms.

Ms. Pelosi is no stranger to the international stage — or goading China. Ms. Pelosi, whose San Francisco district is heavily Chinese, brandished a protest sign during a 1991 trip to Tiananmen Square in Beijing to mark the army’s killing of protesters two years earlier, and she has been a vocal advocate for an independent Tibet. During a May 2009 trip to China, she presented a letter asking for the release of Mr. Liu.

“I am pleased to join with the international community in congratulating Liu Xiaobo as the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement issued by her office Thursday night.

She leaves Washington as the Democratric rank-and-file stews over a tax deal President Barack Obama cut with congressional Republicans. She will pass the speaker’s gavel to Ohio Republican John Boehner early next month when Republicans retake power, making this one of her last — if not the last — trips abroad in the job.

On Wednesday, the House passed a resolution honoring the first Nobel laureate from China and calling for his immediate release from prison. The resolution “sent a clear message of support for individuals who stand for non-violence, justice, democratic freedoms and the defense of fundamental human rights,” Ms. Pelosi said. “As a courageous advocate of peaceful political change, Liu Xiaobo’s message of reform is an inspiration to the entire world.”

Mr. Liu, a 54-year-old professor of literature and a human rights activist, was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” for co-authoring Charter 08, a list of 19 democratic reforms to protect individual liberties. The Chinese government actively lobbied the Nobel committee not to give him the peace prize. Neither he nor his wife, Liu Xia, were allowed to travel to Norway to attend the ceremony.

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