A Letter to the European People

A Letter to the European People,

I am here to urge your support of this year's Nobel Peace Prize being bestowed upon the founder of China's Charter 08, Liu Xiaobo.

In spite of Liu Xiaobo's many friends and supporters, I came to know him quite late, and we first met personally only a few years ago. In the mid-1980s, when Liu Xiaobo rose to prominence within the literary world, I was a visiting research fellow at Oxford, and became familiar with his ideas through Chinese periodicals published overseas. Contrary to the view held by many, what brought Liu such attention at the time wasn't merely the sharpness of his writing or his pointed critiques, but also how thorough he was in his thinking and how much more influential his criticisms were of mainstream ideology and dogma in China than those of other intellectuals.

Throughout the student-led democracy movement of 1989, I had the opportunity to observe Liu Xiaobo. He had been lecturing abroad for quite some time, but when signs of suppression began to appear and others began making arrangements to flee overseas, Liu Xiaobo instead chose to discontinue his academic pursuits and return to Beijing to immerse himself in the struggle for democracy. On the nights of June 3rd and 4th, I was in Tiananmen Square, not far from the Monument to the People's Heroes. Liu Xiaobo, along with three other intellectuals, was taking part in the student hunger strike; it was they, who, on the early morning of the 4th, convinced the students to peacefully evacuate the Square and begin discussion with the soldiers suppressing them, negotiating a smooth withdrawal. I remember clearly the difficulty and pain Liu Xiaobo and his comrades-in-arms— raised as they had been with the most radical type of an education — experienced in reaching this decision, one which only later was understood to have saved the lives of several hundred students.

Liu Xiaobo's involvement in the 1989 democracy movement illustrates his transformation from an eminent cultural critic to public intellectual concerned with social and political problems and human rights activist. His activities in 1989 can be seen as formative in the entirety of his following writings and other works, characterized by an unwavering bravery and refusal to back down in the face of danger and suppression, by the pursuit and defense of human rights, humanism, peace and other universal values and, finally, adherence to the practice of rational dialogue, compromise and non-violence.

For many years, Liu Xiaobo has been the most representative figure and foremost organizer in mainland China's struggle for human rights and democracy. He has been at the forefront of protests made in support of writers and intellectuals imprisoned for their work, in appeals made for farmers and urban residents deprived of land and home, in advocating for protection of the religious and cultural rights of ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, and in fostering constructive dialogue toward seeing peaceful coexistence between Han and all ethnic minorities. In a series of protests aimed at upholding the fundamental rights of all Chinese citizens, Liu Xiaobo placed consistent emphasis on the fact that the rights and freedoms of all Chinese citizens are protected both by the Chinese constitution and in law, as well as a series of United Nations and international declarations and covenants signed by the Chinese government which safeguard human and civil rights. Liu placed particular emphasis on seeing the Chinese government's obligation and responsibility to abide by its own constitution and laws as well as international covenants as commitments to both the Chinese people and the international community.

In launching and signing Charter 08 in 2008, Liu Xiaobo's intent was to reaffirm, with the Chinese government already recognizing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and having signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that these are the norms with regard to interaction between the Chinese people and the Chinese government: to be a qualified and responsible member of the international community would require China to adopt the universal values embodied within these two documents. For this, Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned, his third arrest as a result of striving for freedom and democracy in China. On Christmas Day, 2009, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison. In his final statement to the court, Liu Xiaobo said that he had neither enemies nor hate; to those who kept him under surveillance and arrested him, to the police who interrogated him and to the public attorneys who prosecuted and judge who sentenced him, the message Liu Xiaobo felt it most important to convey was that despite their various roles leading to his imprisonment, he considered none of them his enemy.

As a political theorist and public intellectual also concerned with social and political problems and the defense of human rights, as well as a signatory to Charter 08, I strongly feel the need to point out that in the judgment read by the court which sentenced Liu Xiaobo, evidence cited to prove Liu's guilt included his participation in Charter 08, that he collected signatures for it, and even the content of the Charter itself—naked provocation of the universal values held by humankind, common norms held by the international community, and especially of the Chinese people themselves.

As I see it, the Nobel Peace Prize both embodies and represents the core values of civilized society: respect for life and faith, the sanctity of the individual and the right to express one's self. Given that Liu Xiaobo and many others signatories of Charter 08 have faced persecution and oppression merely for reaffirming these values, the blatant challenge they face behooves a response from the civilized world; to bestow the Nobel Peace Prize upon Liu Xiaobo is one of the strongest responses which could be sent. This would, clearly and unambiguously, reaffirm the values held most dearly by humankind, serve as monumental support for the struggle for the freedom and democracy which China's 1.3 billion people lack, and would mark a major step in defense of world peace. Chinese authorities are able to destroy this country's constitution and trample upon its laws wantonly, which is why external voices, voices from the international community, are needed to make Chinese authorities pay heed. Bestowing the Nobel Peace Prize upon Liu Xiaobo would serve as indirect opposition to the current state of affairs, as well as a both authoritative and effective signal.

Liu Xiaobo's ideas and actions, in my view, are entirely congruous to the actions and ideas held by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu and Aung San Suu Kyi; all have endeavored to use tactics of non-violence in effecting gradual change, of persuasion and compromise in upholding human rights and in making the transition toward a peaceful society. With protest movements now taking place all across China within every community and at every level, it is imperative we remain vigilant in preventing violent trends from taking hold. Awarding Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize would have just such an effect: people struggling for human rights in China and around the world would find hope and strength in rational, non-violent resistance, and see anew the possibility of putting violence and authoritarian rule where they both belong—in the past and behind us all.

Cordially Yours,

Xu Youyu

Philosopher and professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Holder of the Olof Palme Chair, Sweden, 2001-2002


请把诺贝尔和平奖授予刘晓波

徐友渔

我,徐友渔(Xu Youyu),哲学家,中国社会科学院退休政治哲学教授,2001—2002年度奥洛夫•帕尔梅客座教授(the Holder of the Olof Palme Chair, 2001/2002)谨向诺贝尔和平奖评审委员会发出呼吁与请求:请把诺贝尔和平奖授予中国《零八宪章》的发起人刘晓波;谨向欧洲各国媒体和公众发出呼吁与请求:请发挥你们的影响,发出你们的声音,促成诺贝尔和平奖授予刘晓波。
刘晓波有许多朋友和支持者,但我很晚才认识他,第一次见面也不过是在几年前。当刘晓波在上世纪八十年代中期在中国文学界成为著名人物时,我在英国牛津大学从事访问研究(as a visiting research fellow),我通过海外中文刊物了解他的观点。我当时就认为,与许多人的印象相反,他并不仅仅是靠激烈的语言和尖锐的批评引人注目,他思想彻底,在批判中国主流意识形态和教条方面,他比其他有影响的知识分子走得更远。
在1989年中国学生发起的民主运动中,我有机会进一步观察刘晓波。他一直在国外访问,但当镇压的迹象已经出现,个别人着手安排逃避到海外去的时候,刘晓波反其道而行之,中断了访问,返回北京,投身到这场争取民主的运动中。6月3日到4日的整个晚上我都在天安门广场,就在纪念碑附近,当时刘晓波和其他三位知识分子参加到学生的绝食中,是他们在4日凌晨劝说和引导学生和平撤离广场,并与镇压的军队谈判、协商,使得撤离顺利完成。我深知,刘晓波和他的战友作出了困难的、痛苦的,对于一直受激进思想教育的中国人来说极难作出的决定,这个决定挽救了成百上千学生的生命。
刘晓波在1989年民主运动中的表现说明,他已经从一个著名的文艺批评家转变为关注社会和政治问题的公共知识分子和人权活动家,他在1989年的行动体现的特征也贯穿于往后他所有的言论和行动中。这些特征是:一、大无畏的勇气,面对危险和镇压不是躲避,而是迎面而上;二、追求和捍卫人权、人道、和平等普世价值;三、坚持理性、非暴力、对话和协商的方法。
多年以来,刘晓波是中国大陆维护人权和争取民主活动的主要发言人和组织者,他带头为因为言论表达而入狱的作家、知识分子发出抗议,为失去土地、房屋的农民和城市居民呼吁,为在西藏、新疆保障少数民族的宗教文化权利,实现少数民族和汉族居民的和平友好相处提出建议。在维护中国公民基本权利的一系列抗议活动中,刘晓波特别强调,中国公民的自由和权利是得到现行中国宪法、法律,以及中国政府签署的一系列联合国保障人权和公民权利的宣言、一系列国际公约的保障的,特别强调中国政府本身有义务和责任遵守本国宪法、法律和国际公约,应当兑现它对于中国人民和国际社会的承诺。
刘晓波在2008年发起签署《零八宪章》,其本意和出发点就是要再次重申,中国政府已经承认的《世界人权宣言》和已经签署的《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》对于中国人民和中国政府而言,都是行动的准则,中国应该认同这些宣言和公约体现的普世价值,中国应该是国际大家庭中合格的、负责任的成员。刘晓波为此被捕入狱,这是他第三次为了中国的自由民主而被抓捕。2009年圣诞节,他被判处11年徒刑。刘晓波在法庭的最后陈述中说,他没有敌人,也没有仇恨;他对所有监控过他,抓捕过他、审讯过他的警察,起诉过他的检察官以及判决过他的法官说,他们都不是他的敌人,虽然他不接受这些人对他的监控、逮捕、起诉和判决。
作为政治理论家、中国关注和捍卫人权的公共知识分子以及《零八宪章》的签署者,我要强调指出,中国法院在对刘晓波的刑事判决书中公然把刘晓波参与起草《零八宪章》、征集签名以及该宪章的内容作为判决刘晓波有罪的证据,这是对人类普遍价值,对国际大家庭的共同准则,对中国人民的赤裸裸的挑衅。
我认为,诺贝尔和平奖体现和象征了文明世界的核心价值:尊重生命和人的尊严,尊重信仰和表达的权利,既然刘晓波和《零八宪章》的众多签署者仅仅是因为重申这些价值而受到迫害和压制,那么文明世界需要对这种公然的挑衅作出回应,把诺贝尔和平奖授予刘晓波是一种最有力的回应,是对人类珍视的价值的明白无误的再次重申,是对13亿中国人民争取民主自由的巨大声援,也是保卫世界和平的重大举措。中国当局可以在国内破坏宪法、践踏法律、为所欲为,需要外部的声音、国际社会的声音提醒中国当局。授予刘晓波诺贝尔和平奖是非正面对抗的,同时也是权威性的、有效的提醒。
我认为,刘晓波的思想、行为与达赖喇嘛尊者、图图大主教、昂山素姬等人的思想、精神和行为路线完全一致,他们都是力图通过理性与非暴力手段,通过渐进的、说服与协商的方式维护人权,促进社会和平地实现转型。在目前中国各民族、各地区、各阶层的抗议运动中,我们有必要警惕、预防暴力倾向的出现,授予刘晓波诺贝尔和平奖会起到这样的作用:全中国、全世界为争取人权而斗争的人们将在理性和非暴力的抗争中看到希望和吸取力量,全世界、全人类将在埋葬专制统治的同时埋葬暴力。


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