December 10th, 2010
11:01 AM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama, last year’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, issued a statement Friday morning praising Liu Xiabao, this year's honoree. Obama, who heralded past Nobel laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Jose Ramos Horta in his statement, said Liu was “far more deserving” of the award than he was. Liu, an imprisoned Chinese dissident, is currently serving an 11-year sentence for what the Chinese government calls “inciting subversion of state power.” The award was presented to him Friday in absentia. He was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo, Norway.
Statement by President Obama as released by the White House
One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize – an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.
The rights of human beings are universal – they do not belong to one nation, region or faith. America respects the unique culture and traditions of different countries. We respect China’s extraordinary accomplishment in lifting millions out of poverty, and believe that human rights include the dignity that comes with freedom from want. But Mr. Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law. The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible. I regret that Mr. Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony that Michelle and I attended last year. Today, on what is also International Human Rights Day, we should redouble our efforts to advance universal values for all human beings.