Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Nobel Peace Prize: Dissidents On the Short List

Tomorrow, Friday the 10th of October, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced. Following on the heels of the prizes in medicine, physics, economics and literature, the awarding of the Peace Prize is the crowning moment of the Nobel process.

Rumor has it that Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese dissident, will be awarded the prize. Zhisheng, who has been arrested, detained, and almost assassinated due to his role as the winning lawyer in a case against the Chinese government for the religious freedom of practitioners of Falun Gong, was kidnapped in 2007 and has never been seen again. It is believed that Gao is in the custody of Chinese authorities, that he has suffered torture at the hands of Chinese authorities, and that he was removed from Beijing during the Olympic games following a suicide.

Many of us around the world felt strongly that the International Olympic Committee's decision to give the Chinese the opportunity to host the Olympics sent the wrong message to a country where religious persecution and the revocation of basic freedoms is still widespread. The irony of China's sugar-coating of its horrendous environmental policies and deep-seated political myopia is not lost on those of us who opposed Beijing's hosting of the Olympics on moral and ethical grounds.

Thus, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to a well-known missing Chinese dissident would be a well-deserved slap in the face of a country that still has not learned to value the diversity, individuality, and basic human worth of its citizens.

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