The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Chinese dissident and former literature professor Liu Xiaobo for his "long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." President Barack Obama said that 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."
Liu Xiaobo has been a prominent supporter of fundamental human rights in China for over two decades. He participated in the Tiananmen protests in 1989, joining students in the square, and later negotiating with the military to allow many of the protestors to leave the square safely.
It was the violent suppression of the pro-democracy demonstrations that Liu later said marked the "major turning point in my fifty years on life's road." He served his first prison sentence of eighteen months for his involvement in the demonstrations.
After Liu's release from prison in 1991, he continued to write articles and essays calling for peaceful political reform. He was subsequently placed under house arrest and later in a re-education through labor camp. He was released in 1999.
In December 2008 he co-authored a document known as Charter '08, modeled after Czechoslovakia’s Charter 77, which included a call for multiparty elections and democratic reform in China. The online document collected more than 8,000 signatures before authorities removed it.
Liu was again arrested in June 2009 and sentenced to eleven years in prison on charges of "inciting subversion of state power" for his role in drafting Charter '08 and for publishing six additional articles calling for political reform. Liu's lawyer maintains that the sentence violates both China's constitution and fundamental human rights.
Following the announcement of Liu's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama said "China has made dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. But this 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."