China suggests Nobel should not go to activists

Image: Hu Jia
Chinese activist Hu Jia, along with Gao Zhisheng, are considered among the front-runners for the Nobel Peace Prize. Hu has been jailed since Dec. 27, Gao since August 2006.Ng Han Guan / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

China's foreign ministry suggested Tuesday that it hopes Chinese human rights activists will not win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, saying the award should go to the "right people."

Dissidents Gao Zhisheng and Hu Jia, both arrested and jailed through the Beijing Olympics to keep them out of the public eye, are considered among the front-runners for the prize. The winner will be announced Friday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the prize has sometimes gone to the wrong people. He did not say whom.

"For the past few years we see that many people in the world have dedicated themselves to world peace and scientific and human progress and have been properly awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize," he said.

"However," Qin added, "some of the prizes went against Mr. Nobel's initial purpose. We hope the Nobel prize should be awarded to the right people."

Voices of dissent
Peace researcher Stein Toennesson, director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway, said the prize committee might pick a Chinese activist "in view of the fact that the Olympic Games did not bring the improvement many had hoped for, but instead led to a number of strict security measures."

This year is also the 60th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Hu is a brash dissident who has tirelessly chronicled the arrests and harassment of other activists. He started out fighting for the rights of HIV/AIDS patients but his scope expanded after the government gave little ground. He began to see China's problems as rooted in authorities' lack of respect for human rights.

** FILE **In this Feb. 24, 2006 file photo., Gao Zhisheng gestures during an interview at a tea house in Beijing. Peace researcher Stein Toennesson, whose picks tend to shape world speculation, was leaning toward Chinese dissidents Gao Zhisheng and Hu Jia, both arrested and jailed through the Beijing Olympics to keep them out of the public eye. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)Ng Han Guan / AP

Security agents removed Hu from his apartment on Dec. 27 without explanation. In April, he was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail.

Gao, a lawyer became a prominent critic of China's civil rights lapses in 2002-2006, taking on cases involving property-rights violations, the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and religious persecution.

He was arrested in August 2006, convicted in a one-day trial and placed under house arrest. He was convicted on the basis of nine articles posted on foreign Web sites, state media reported at the time.