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Dissidents Hu Jia and Gao Zhisheng favored for Nobel Peace Prize

ICC Note:

Two currently imprisoned activists for human rights in China, Hu Jia and Gao Zhisheng, are apparently favored nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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10/7/08 China (AsiaNews) Chinese human rights activists Hu Jia and Gao Zhisheng are among this year’s contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced on 10 October in Oslo.

The Nobel Committee has never named its nominees but Stein Toennesson, director of the International Peace Research Institute (IPRI), said the prize this year coincides with the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and may be “awarded to someone active in defending human rights” and a Chinese dissident will “likely” be the recipient, either Gao Zhisheng or Hu Jia, both of whom are in prison.

Hu has been outspoken on the rights of AIDS patients and has become an icon among Chinese dissidents, writing articles, preparing legal recourses and presenting the international community with the work of all other opponents to the regime.

He has worked with foreign media and embassies, providing material on human rights violations by the Communist Party, and more recently about people harassed because of the Olympic Games.

He was arrested last December and sentenced to three and half years for instigating subversive activity when he criticised the government for its violations of human rights to prepare the Olympics.

He could get the prize along with his wife Zeng Jinyan (see photo), who for months has been under house arrest and tight police surveillance with their infant daughter.

This said the Chinese government is not amused. “I hope the committee will make the right decision and not challenge the original purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize or hurt Chinese people’s feelings,” said Liu Jianchao, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry. The prize should go to those who “truly contributed” to world peace, he said.

By contrast, Wan Yanhai, a veteran AIDS activist and co-founder with Hu of the Beijing Aizhixing Institute, hailed the possibility that a Chinese might get the prize.

“It is great news for activists like us who are campaigning for human rights in China. This kind of encouragement from the international community is exactly what we need.”

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