members of his family and fellow activists were barred from travelling toOslo to receive the prize or participate in the festivities. This made LiuXiaobo’s the first Nobel Peace Prize to go physically uncollected since1936, when the Nazi government in Germany prevented Carl vonOssietzky from attending the ceremony. The Nobel Committee’sselection of Liu Xiaobo, and the Chinese government’s petulantresponse, highlighted the ongoing – and even increasing – effort tosilence government critics over the past three years.The year ended with a life sentence imposed on Binayak Senby a state court in India. Binayak Sen, a prisoner of conscience, is aphysician and activist who has criticized both the Indian governmentand Maoist armed groups for the spiralling violence in central India.His trial was politically motivated, suffered from serious procedural andevidentiary flaws, and was roundly denounced by observers insideand outside India. Nevertheless, a sessions court in Chhattisgarh statesentenced Binayak Sen to life imprisonment for sedition – under thesame problematic law used against Mahatma Gandhi by the Britishcolonial government.Aung San Suu Kyi, Liu Xiaobo, and Binayak Sen each served assymbols of resistance to injustice and indignity, but they are alsoindividuals who keenly suffer the deprivations of detention. They maybe at the centre of international attention, and even benefit from thatattention, but in each case, government authorities have abused themand subjected their family members and associates to threats andharassment. In this sense, their plight is no different from that of thousands of activists and human rights defenders who suffergovernment persecution in the Asia-Pacific region but do not receivethe attention of headline writers and policy-makers.
Freedom of expression
As even a cursory review of the events of 2010 shows, many journalistsand activists across the Asia-Pacific region placed their lives and well-being on the line in order to challenge governments and other powerfulactors to fulfil their obligations to respect the rights and dignity of all. Asa result, many of those who dared exercise their right to express theiropinions freely suffered violations of their civil and political rights.Paradoxically, it was often these civil and political violations thatgrabbed the headlines, and not the more complicated causes – oftenviolations of economic, social and cultural rights – that promptedcomplaints and criticism in the first place.Regardless of the reasons for dissent, most of the region’sgovernments shared the desire to inhibit critics, notwithstandingpolitical, religious, ethnic and cultural differences. Governments
Amnesty International Report 2011
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