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Free Liu Xiaobo now! Don’t let authoritarians take away your freedom of speech!

October 18, 2010

Free Liu Xiaobo now! Don’t let authoritarians  take away your freedom of  speech!

News that jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo has won the Noble Peace prize has rocked the world and all freedom loving people; and none more so than in China itself. The Chinese communist government (which says Orwellian style that “communism it whatever it says it is”) has reacted violently to this event by putting his wife under house detention and threatening the Norwegian government with trade and other sanctions.

While the US, the UK and Australian governments have protested against this most arbitrary and unreasonable move it probably won’t cut much ice with fundamentalists in Beijing so it is important that freedom loving people everywhere make their voices heard.

It was not that long ago that the former Soviet Union consistently pilloried writers such as Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak even when (or especially) they won the Nobel prize. The choice of the Gulag or exile was the only alternative to recanting or being put to the sword. It should be remembered Solzhenitsyn was honoured with a state funeral in Russia last year despite his long struggle against the unspeakable crimes perpetrated by the former USSR against its citizens and others.   

The Chinese Premier made it plain in recent interviews that those who go along with the regime shall prosper while those that don’t “shall fail’. This approach to those who criticise the government is not unheard of even in Australia albeit on a much lower level. Australian author Frank Hardy had to Roneo (for those who remember a machine was hand cranked leaving your hands strained purple) off  his powerful novel about corruption within the press and the government(s) of Australia early in the century, “Power without glory”,  in the face of a general blacklist and worse. Other Australian writers such as Xavier Herbert and Thea Astley were also similarly outcast from the mainstream for painting a less than idyllic picture of injustice and inequities in Australia. This kind of financial (publishers were and are “dissuaded” from backing controversial texts and universities and schools would join in to boycott them from work under the pressure of group dynamics) and political pressure has impacted on Australian literature and culture since Penal Colonial days and can sadly still be found to this day. All writers and artists wherever they are should make their voices heard and support the cause of those who are unjustly punished for speaking the truth, however uncomfortable that truth may be.

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