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En av Kinas mest kjente dissidenter, Liu Xiabo (54), ble igår tildelt Amerikanske P.E.N.s 2009 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Xiabo kunne ikke ta imot prisen. Han sitter i en vindusløs celle på ukjent sted. Han får ikke se dagslys eller bevege seg. I toalettet er det en luftesjakt hvor han såvidt kan skimte himmelen.

Han ble arrestert 8. desember i fjor, trolig på grunn av Charter 08, som går inn for demokrati og menneskerettigheter. Liu er den eneste som er blitt arrestert. Flere tusen har undertegnet. Det skullle statueres et eksempel.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, president of the PEN American Centre, said: «The liberties that allow all of us to make meaningful lives have always depended, alas, on those who are willing, like Liu Xiaobo, to put their own freedom at risk. His consistent self-sacrifice for the cause of democracy in China should inspire all freedom’s friends around the world. I am filled with admiration – indeed, with awe – each time I read about the extraordinary things he has done.»

Liu skapte seg et navn som litteraturkritiker på 80-tallet. Han ble en av de intellektuelle lederskikkelsene som regimet frykter. Etter massakren på Den himmelske freds plass i 1989 ble han dømt til 4 måneders fengsel. På 90-tallet satt han tre år i fengsel.

Selv forteller Liu i en artikkel om de enorme forandrindringene. Myndighetene har kontroll på radio, TV og avisene. Men de klarer ikke kontrollere internett. Ubehagelig informasjon spres over nettet. Kina har fått uoffisielle helter, sannhetshelter som forteller folket hvordan det egentlig står til, som militærlegen som fortalte om sars-viruset.

Før internett var det uhyre krevende å kommunisere med likesinnede. Man måtte ta mange forholdsregler for ikke å bli tatt. Å lage en underskriftsaksjon tok måneder. Nå skjer det med et klikk på internett. Nettet er Guds gave til kineserne, sier Liu. Han

Today there are more than 100 million internet users in China. The Chinese Government is ambivalent towards it. On the one hand, the internet is a tool to make money. On the other, the Communist dictatorship is afraid of freedom of expression.

The internet has brought about the awakening of ideas among the Chinese. This worries the Government, which has placed great importance on blocking the internet to exert ideological control.

The ease, openness and freedom of the internet has caused public opinion to become very lively in recent years. The Government can control the press and television, but it cannot control the internet. The scandals that are censored in the traditional media are disseminated through the internet. The Government now has to release information and officials may have to publicly apologise.

The first senior official to apologise was in 2001 when Zhu Rongji, who was then the Premier, apologised for an explosion in a school that caused the death of 41 people. At the same time, under the impact of internet opinion, the authorities had to punish officials – for Sars, mining accidents and the contamination of the Songhua River.

The internet has the extraordinary ability to create stars. Not only can it produce entertainment stars, it can also create «truth-speaking heroes». It has allowed a new generation of intellectuals to emerge and created folk heroes such as the military doctor Jiang Yanyong (who publicly warned about the threat of Sars and forced the Government to take action).

Chinese Christians say that although the Chinese lack any sense of religion, their God will not forsake the suffering Chinese people. The internet is God’s present to China. It is the best tool for the Chinese people in their project to cast off slavery and strive for freedom.


The internet is God’s present to China

Arrested Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo to receive prestigious award