You may not know his name, but my friend Liu Xiaobo is a global icon for freedom. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights.
Today, this hero remains in jail, as China’s most famous political prisoner.
Xiaobo is serving an 11-year term for his activism demanding that the Chinese government make his country more democratic and make its courts more independent. His wife, who has never been convicted of any crime, is under house arrest. This is not just.
I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for my work fighting the racist Apartheid system in South Africa. I am humbled to share the Nobel legacy with someone so brave as Xiaobo.
Today, with more than 130 other Nobel Prize winners, I am calling on the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to release Liu Xiaobo from prison and his wife, Xia, from house arrest.
This is an historic moment in China. Every 10 years, the Chinese government hands over power to a new generation of leadership. As of a few weeks ago, Xi Jinping has succeeded his predecessor, Hu Jintao, in leading China — and hopes are that he will open China to reform more than any of his predecessors.
The Chinese government doesn’t usually listen to voices from outside the country. (Or voices from within the country, for that matter!) But the world has a singular opportunity to push for change when China’s leadership changes over every 10 years. This is our chance!
Humans are wonderful, and we can do amazing things when we act together. I have seen this time and time again with my own eyes.
Brothers and sisters, we are going to move mountains together!
God bless you,
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Cape Town, South Africa