This is a day late, but my most sincere congratulations to Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident who advocates for human rights and democracy, for winning the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Hu was up for the Nobel Peace Prize and I was very disappointed he didn’t win it this year, but this is still a great honor.
Last year, Mr. Hu testified via video link before a hearing of the European Parliament about China’s human rights situation. Weeks later, he was jailed and later sentenced to three and a half years in prison for subversion based on his writings criticizing Communist Party rule.
Hu Jia remains in jail and will not be able to accept his award in person. Meanwhile the Chinese government is throwing a fit that the European Parliament would have the temerity to honor someone who seeks to expand freedom and the rule of law in China. Their anti-human rights behavior and unfailing panic at criticism speaks volumes about where China is today, while belying any notion that Beijing is liberalizing.
Hopefully the Sakharov Prize will bring greater global attention to Hu Jia’s work, his ongoing imprisonment, and the Chinese government’s continued resistance to democratizing efforts within their borders.