Rights groups urge China to free all prisoners of conscience

8th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Human rights groups called for Chinese authorities to release all its prisoners of conscience after jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

London-based Amnesty International said Liu was a "worthy winner" and hoped the award would "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".

But Catherine Baber, Amnesty's deputy Asia-Pacific director, said: "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."

Human Rights Watch also reiterated its longstanding call for Liu's release.

"This award will no doubt infuriate the Chinese government by putting its human rights record squarely back into the international debate," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at the New York-based group.

"But this Nobel Prize honours not only Liu's unflinching advocacy; it honours all those in China who struggle daily to make the government more accountable."

Richardson said the Nobel Committee had highlighted "a reality few want to acknowledge about China -- that its government continues to persecute human rights advocates, lawyers, and journalists".

Liu, 54, is in prison for helping to organise and disseminate a document called Charter 08, which called for sweeping political reforms in China, including the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion.

© 2010 AFP

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