The letter released Monday by Liu’s U.S. lawyers was written at the initiative of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and signed by, among others, former Polish President Lech Walesa, former U.S. President Carter and the Dalai Lama — all recipients of the peace prize.
“The Chinese government’s release of Dr. Liu would be an extraordinary recognition of the remarkable transformation China has undergone in recent decades,” the letter states. It urges that leaders of the Group of 20 nations, who will be convening Nov. 10-11 in Seoul, personally press Hu for Liu’s release.
The 54-year-old writer is serving an 11-year prison sentence on subversion charges brought after he organized a petition calling for democratic reform in China.
Notably absent among the signatories of the letter was the recipient of the 2009 Peace Prize: President Obama.
Meanwhile, Liu’s wife Liu Xia has sent an open letter to dozens of activists, writers, and cultural figures asking them to attend the Nobel Award ceremony in Oslo if, as expected, she is not permitted to go. From Times of India:
Liu Xia’s invitation letter lists 143 people, many of them well-known Chinese activists such as Ding Zilin, whose teenage son was killed during the military crackdown against pro-democracy protests around Tiananmen Square in 1989, and Li Rui, the former secretary to revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and an outspoken supporter of democratic reform.
Many of the invitees are frequently placed under house arrest during sensitive periods or are under constant surveillance by security officials, making it unlikely that they would be allowed to leave the country. One invited guest, rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, disappeared in April shortly after announcing he was abandoning his role as a government critic. His family says they have no idea what has happened to him.
Also invited are numerous Chinese celebrities, including film director Chen Kaige, actor Jiang Wen, singer and race car driver Han Han and author Wang Shuo. Liu Xia said in the letter that she had invited prominent cultural figures because she hoped they could help promote social change in China.
“China’s social progress needs the joint effort of people from all walks of life,” she wrote.