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The Chinese warnings over Peace Nobel Prize
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-11-06 09:00:06
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The Chinese government warned all the countries usually participating at the award ceremony that their participation will be noticed and there will be consequences. The Chinese vice-foreign minister Cui Tiankai went one step further saying that the award and the act of participation in the ceremony is a challenge to China’s judicial system. But it seems to me that we are in front a dilemma, are the Nobel Prizes politicized and are the awarded fairly awarded?

The Nobel Peace Prize – since that is the target – could not avoid been political, only its name is a political reference and that doesn’t mean representing one side or another. Actually it is pure semantics, contemporaries are the judges and they are judging based over contemporary acts and according the information that reaches the public. Would Henry Kissinger take a Peace Nobel Prize today? I bet no, actually and for a number of countries the former American foreign secretary appears in their most wanted lists. But at the time Henry Kissinger was really fighting – or at least that’s how it looked like – for global peace and especially for a soluti0on in the Middle East.

And it is not only that history has proven that Kissinger’s role in Middle East peace was a failure but the way we see the Middle East problem this moment is totally different from the way people saw it back in early seventies. In another article yesterday I mentioned again the Peace Nobel Prize and this time regarding the last awarded, the American president Barack Obama and I noted – even emphasized – that the Nobel Prizes was awarded to the people who still hope and work for the hope, in the face of the American president. That’s again political act. Giving the prize to somebody who brings hope and especially when this somebody is the first black American president, when this first black American president becomes the leader of the most powerful country in the world in every sense – economic, military, socially – then there is a lot of political thought behind it.

In 2003 Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Peace Nobel Price, an openly opponent of the Iranian regime but this was not the reason she was awarded. In the conscious of the people internationally – including me – she was a defender of the unfairly prosecuted, she was and she still is an advocate for human rights and minorities and it is internationally known that the Iranian record according human rights is not the best in the world. If I’m wrong then it is the Iranian government’s mistake that hasn’t proven otherwise. But when they sentence to death a woman because she fell in love, when they imprison anybody who will dare say anything positing the smallest decision of the government, when hate messages and verbal attacks are constantly coming from the mouth of the highest representative of the Iranian government the Iranian president how can you believe that the Peace Prize was wrong given? It is like the story with the young lad who was crying wolf.

Frederik Willem de Klerk is another controversy example. The product of the most disgusting regime in modern history and partly responsible for South Africa’s apartheid – he was an active politician for decades and while apartheid was established in South Africa – but still he was Nelson Mandela’s partner in the gigantic transform of a racist nation to a united nation going against his own believes and understanding that change was inevitable. The man from part of the problem became part of the solution and he was worth the nomination for the Nobel Prize even sharing it with the legend of international peace, Nelson Mandela.

Was Lech Walesa worth the nomination and award? Yes he was because in the process of a civil war and uprising Poland was fast heading to he became part of the peaceful solution and his example inspired others and became part of the change in east Europe. How different politically Nelson Mandela and Lech Walesa are is more than obvious, the theoretical political distance that separates them is more than huge, still they both did something to bring peace in nations on the edge and their acts became examples for generations. But none of them was judged according to their political ideas, personal philosophy or principals but according their acts at the time. Perhaps today it will sound ridiculous the reasoning but the first Peace Nobel Prize was awarded to a Swiss businessman who in a business trip witnessed a nightmarish battle – the battle of Solferino in Italy – and shocked of what he saw he wrote a book “A Memory of Solferino” that inspired the creation of the Red Cross.

Liu Xiaobo is not judged by his character – if you believe the Chinese news agencies he’s a greedy opportunist who hates China and wants to see his country as the 51st star of the American flag – but by his acts and his acts show a defender of the freedom of speech and freedom of speech has nothing to do with western life style, western standards but with a basic human right, to think and express him/herself freely. If the Chinese judicial system convicts somebody because is thinking differently and expresses himself differently then the whole Chinese system is wrong and if Mr. Liu Xiaobo is really a little greedy bastard and for that reason not worth the award then the Chinese system has a problem explaining it and producing a valuable argument. But you see, the people in China don’t have the luxury of a valuable argument since they don't have the freedom of speech and expression, for or against. And that’s a two sides knife in this case.

From my side I’m expecting both the Greek and the Finnish ambassadors to participate in the ceremonies for the Peace Nobel Prize and salute any effect for freedom of speech not only in China but everywhere in the world.

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Emanuel Paparella2010-11-07 03:28:31
I find it quite intriguing but not very surprising that the countries that usually object to their citizens receiving Nobel Prices for Peace are usually those who have precious little respect for the concept of free speech and inalienable rights. That was true in the past and it remains true today. For example, in the former Soviet Union there were two men who were vilified for receiving a Nobel prize not in Peace but in Literature: Boris Pasternak who was forced by the Soviet authorities to decline the award with this telegram to the Swedish Nobel prize committee: “Considering the meaning this award has been given in the society to which I belong, I must refuse it. Please do not take offense at my voluntary rejection.” Then there was the Nobel award in literature for 1970 to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn who was also vilified and persecuted and ended up in exile in the US till Communism imploded some twenty years later. What bothered the Communist authorities was not the quality of their poetry and prose but the fact that they told the truth about their regime. The only conclusion that one can arrive at is that if the prize is being politicized it is not by the Nobel Committee but by those governments who have a poor record on human rights and free speech. When China stops watching the awards for political correctness, it will have entered the community of free democratic countries. Till that happens, she will remain a totalitarian country, despite its spectacular economic progress.

Emanuel Paparella2010-11-07 09:42:15
P.S. It can also be added here that those above described totalitarian countries never have any objections to their citizens receiving Nobel Prizes in Medicine or Physics.

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