The Chinese author was arrested two years ago for the crime of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ by writing about political reform in China. On Christmas Day 2009, a Beijing court sentenced Xiaobo to 11-years in prison and and “two years’ deprivation of political rights” for subversion in his writings. His trial lasted hours.
In a conversation with a Chinese artist, Xiaobo explained why he wrote, despite government control: “From a certain point of view, what with artists dealing with so much suffering, and a nation facing so many tragic incidents, I feel that Chinese artists have deliberately held back. To express things in their reality would be to invite censorship and to ultimately lose one’s market – it’s a conflict of interests. So much accumulated suffering yet no corresponding artistic record – what a tragedy. Whether its in terms of politics or in terms of an individual life, that no such work exists to capture the totality of the moment is sad, very, very sad.”
PEN president Kwame Anthony Appiah nominated the author for the Nobel, and had this statement: “We hope the Chinese authorities receive this wise decision by the Nobel Committee as the rest of the world will receive it—as recognition of the power of its citizens to guide and shape their future in a peaceful way. We ask the citizens and leaders of every nation to join us in urging the Chinese government to honor the award’s spirit by setting him and all his imprisoned colleagues free.”