Canada asks China to free Nobel Prize winner

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 09, 2010 07:20 hrs

Toronto, Oct 9 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined US President Barack Obama in calling upon China to free pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo after he won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

'I would hope the fact that he is now a Nobel Peace Prize winner would cause our friends in the Chinese government to look seriously at that issue of his release from prison,'' said Parkert whose government has been a strong critic of China's human rights record.

'But I would say, more than anything, we're delighted for him and send him our congratulations,'' Harper said.

The reaction from Canada's more than a million-strong Chinese community was muted. But Henry Chau, president of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, said he was overjoyed to know that Liu Xiaobo was given the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, it was a bittersweet victory because Liu remains imprisoned by the Chinese government, Chau told the Vancouver Sun newspaper. 'In one way we are celebrating, but he is still in jail and nothing in China has changed over the years so it is sort of frustrating,' he said. Later in the day, Chau and his supporters held a rally at the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver to demand his release from jail. Sid Chow Tan, chairman of the Chinese Canadian National Council in Vancouver, said the Nobel committee has shown tremendous courage in awarding the prize to Liu.

'His call for freedom and reform in the People's Republic of China is the human spirit in action,'' Tan told the newspaper. Prof Timothy Cheek, associate director of the Centre for Chinese Research at the University of British Columbia Institute for Asian Research in Vancouver, said Liu deserved the Prize and that his recognition will give a major boost his fight for human rights.

'He's put his life and limb at risk for 20 years speaking truth to power inside China. He has really pushed the envelope for democracy,'' Cheek was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at

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