Thursday, October 21, 2010

Politics of the Prize

Palden Gyal

When the Nobel Committee declared that the Nobel Peace Prize 2010 to be awarded to Liu Xiaobo "for his non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China", it sent a wave of exhilaration across the globe in recognition of the Committee's decision, somewhat curing the injury of disparagement and vilification to the group for conferring it to Barrack Obama last year. The Committee in its run often known for some controversial picks from Henry Kissinger to Yasser Arafat and Barrack Obama while leaving out deserving candidates such as M.K. Gandhi and Ken Saro-Wiwa. However, this time it came as a hard slap on the face of Chinese Government and its immediate response was the suspension of the upcoming Shanghai Meeting with a Norwegian Minister in vengeance of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. Earlier Beijing warned Olso that awarding the prize to the imprisoned dissent would have serious consequences to their bilateral relation as a longstanding trade partners (Norway is Europe's biggest exporter of oil and gas). As an independent organization, the Nobel Committee has no reason to be daunted by such warnings or care for any diplomatic relations of the two countries.

Consequently, again, again because this is the third time China coming into the spotlight, exposing the regime's infringement of basic rights in relation to the Nobel Prize. First, in 1989 when the Dalai Lama was awarded the prize following the tragic June 4th Tiananmen Square Massacre and second in 2000 when the exiled Chinese writer Gao Xingjian was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. This time again it has forced China jump on the universal bandwagon where it is to defend its legitimacy over curbing the rights of dissents like Liu against the critics of the international community, while leaving no stone unturned in its effort to prelude the news from propagating to its people. As known for its dictatorial internet policing, the search engines are carefully filtered of any references to Liu Xiaobo and the Nobel Peace Prize and thereby blanketing the whole nation while a small segment of net-savvy citizens are accessing the information illegally. China's condemnation of the prize is somewhat extreme as it has gone claiming that the Nobel Prize for Liu is a 'blasphemy' and an 'insult' to the Chinese people and is an imposition of Western values on China. When a group of activists were heading toward a restaurant for a celebratory meal with portraits of Mr. Liu, the gathering was dismissed due to the immediate intrusion of the police. Such expressions of joy and triumph has no room for public display unless their private celebration for those in knowledge of it while hundreds of millions have no access and are deprived of their right to information.

The Nobel Award to Mr. Liu Xiaobo, while there is no question about him as a deserving candidate it also has corollary implications to which I think many international critics and observers are overestimating them by constructing rather arbitrary projections for the start of a change in China and the Nobel Prize as a wakeup call for it when many international figures including the Dalai Lama and Vaclav Havel congratulated Mr. Liu Xiaobo for winning the prize. However the optimism attached to prize has intensified the politics of the prize while, unintentionally, causing an alienation of Mr. Liu from his prize owing to the hysterical politicization of the prize from both international community and the Chinese government. Not surprisingly, when the news reached to Mr. Lui Xiaobo last Sunday on his wife's visit, he cried and uttered "this is for the lost souls of June 4th."

While the Chinese government is in desperate angst of sweeping the news under the rug and fortifying the country from such criticisms lest it might give birth to a new Tiananmen rebellion, the international community and human rights organizations have been opportunistic in reinforcing its advocacy for fundamental human rights in China as Mr. Liu has become a touchstone to his fellow citizens in the march for freedom and democracy. Coincidently, some Tibetans in its Diaspora sensed the prize as a possibility and inception to the resolution of its longstanding conflict with the assumption that a change in China would bring a favorable climate to solve the issue and thereby fervently involve in the politics of the prize. However, it should be noted and forewarned that a democracy in China by no means will what Tibet is asking for, even what Middle Pathists to their humble request will ever be served. Such a sweeping yet a decisive statement may reflect my political naivety but definitely Tibetans been frenzied for a democratic China is a huge miscalculation if not a wishful thinking on a wing and a prayer.

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