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Governments, human rights groups respond to Nobel Peace Prize win

By the CNN Wire Staff
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China censors Nobel Peace Prize coverage
  • NEW: Freedom House calls Liu a "man of unique courage"
  • President Obama wants "Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible"
  • France, Germany have also sought the release of the Chinese dissident
  • His acts are "contradiction to the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize," China says

(CNN) -- Governments and human rights leaders worldwide responded to the decision to give the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a leading Chinese dissident who is serving an 11-year prison term.

David Kramer, executive director of Freedom House, a human rights advocacy group:

"Liu Xiaobao is a man of unique courage. His intelligence, persistence in the face of repression, and commitment to democratic values stand him in the great tradition of political dissent. ... "Like (Lech) Walesa, (Andrei) Sakharov, and (Nelson) Mandela, Liu has refused to sacrifice his ideals in the face of overwhelming state oppression."

U.S. President Barack Obama, winner of the prize in 2009:

"Last year, I noted that so many others who have received the award had sacrificed so much more than I. That list now includes Mr. Liu, who has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs. By granting the prize to Mr. Liu, the Nobel Committee has chosen someone who has been an eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through peaceful and non-violent means, including his support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. ... Over the last 30 years, China has made dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. But this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected. We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible."

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission:

"The decision of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is a strong message of support to all those around the world who, sometimes with great personal sacrifice, are struggling for freedom and human rights. These values are at the core of the European Union, and the decision of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee highlighted their importance all over the world."

President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek:

"I warmly welcome the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. In him we have one of the staunchest defenders of human rights who has fought for the freedom of expression using peaceful means. He stands for the values and fundamental freedoms that the European Union and the European Parliament regard as cornerstones of society."

Ma Zhaoxu, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

"The Nobel Peace Prize is supposed to be given to people who promote national harmony, international friendship, disarmament, peace, and who work on promoting peace meetings. This was Nobel's will. Liu Xiaobo is a convicted criminal sentenced to jail by Chinese justice authorities for violation of Chinese law. His acts are in complete contradiction to the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize. By giving the peace prize to such a person, the committee has totally gone against the purpose of the award and it is also a blasphemy against the peace prize. Recently, China and Norway have had good relations. It fits the basic interest of two countries and people from the two countries. The Nobel Prize committee, by giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, went against the purpose of the award and will also harm China-Norway relations."

The Dalai Lama, who won the Peace Prize in 1989:

"Awarding the Peace Prize to him is the international community's recognition of the increasing voices among the Chinese people in pushing China towards political, legal and constitutional reforms. I believe in the years ahead, future generations of Chinese will be able to enjoy the fruits of the efforts that the current Chinese citizens are making towards responsible governance."

Steffen Seibert, German government spokesman:

Seibert said at a news conference that the government congratulated Liu for winning the award. Seibert said he has asked China to release Liu so he can pick up his prize. Germany has sought his release since he was jailed in 2009.

The British Foreign Office:

"The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Liu Xiaobo shines a spotlight on the situation of human rights defenders worldwide. British ministers, including Foreign Secretary William Hague, have raised his case in China since his imprisonment in 2009. We continue to call for his release and to champion freedom of expression in all countries."

Bernard Kouchner, French minister of foreign affairs:

The decision to award Liu the Nobel Prize "represents the defense of human rights around the world. France, like the European Union, expressed concern upon his arrest, and called for his release on several occasions. It reiterates that call now. France also repeats its support of freedom of expression around the world. The Nobel committee, which made its choice independently, wanted to send a strong message to all those who peacefully advocate for the promotion and protection of human rights."

Catherine Baber, deputy Asia-Pacific director for Amnesty International:

"Liu Xiaobo is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. We hope it will keep the spotlight on the struggle for fundamental freedoms and concrete protection of human rights that Liu Xiaobo and many other activists in China are dedicated to. This award can only make a real difference if it prompts more international pressure on China to release Liu, along with the numerous other prisoners of conscience languishing in Chinese jails for exercising their right to freedom of expression."