Popular Posts

Caveat Emptor

The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Liu Xiaobo, Mordechai Vanunu and Carl von Ossietzky

This may be the first year since 1936 that  neither the receiver or a representative of the receiver of the Nobel Peace Prize will be able to go to Oslo to collect the medal and the cheque. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying that: "Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law", to which the only answer is that it is about time the Chinese changed their laws so that they accorded with elementary principles of human decency. I'm sure there are many ordinary Chinese citizens that would, if they were given a chance, agree with that sentiment.
The last odious regime that succeeded in preventing a laureate or their representative attending the prize ceremony was Nazi Germany. In 1936 the winner was Carl von Ossietzky a pacifist journalist who was convicted of treason by the Weimar government for revealing that Germany, in direct contravention of the Versailles Peace Treaty, was both rearming and training its air force in Soviet Russia. Mordechai Vanunu imprisoned for revealing the existence of the Israeli nuclear weapons programme and since his release denied by the State of Israel his constitutional rights including the right to leave Israel  is the winner of the 2010 Carl-von-Ossietzky-Medal. He was, of course, unable to attend the award ceremony in Berlin.

The last lines of  Oswald Andrae's song about Ossietzky  - Dat Leed van den Häftling Nr. 562 - are:

Den Nobelpries för den Freeden kreeg de Häftling, den ik meen
Gegen Unrecht harr he streeden. Mien Kind, verget dat nich
Waak ween, hanneln för den Freeden, denn dat Woort alleen helpt nich 

It's low German which taxes my linguistic abilities a bit, but a rough translation is something like:

The prisoner I'm talking about got the Nobel Prize for Peace/ he fought against injustice. Don't forget my child/ always remember that in the struggle for peace words alone are not enough.

No comments: