“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage”
An ancient Greek historian and author, Thucydides says: “The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage”. Freedom is the most valuable of all human longings that people pay any price to gain it and preserve it. It is futile to own everything that makes one happy, but not enjoying the fundamental human aspirations of freedom of conscience, of speech, freedom to organise, and to worship God.
Recently the world came to know of a true warrior for freedom when the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 to Liu Xiaobo of China. Liu has been waging a long and non-violent struggle against the repressive Chinese regime. Article 35 of China's constitution lays down that "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration". However, in practice, these freedoms have all been curtailed for the people of China. For over two decades, Liu Xiaobo has been a strong spokesman for the application of fundamental human rights in China. He took part in the Tiananmen protests in 1989; he was a leading author behind Charter 08, the manifesto of such rights in China which was published on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10th of December 2008. The following year, Liu was sentenced to eleven years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power". Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China's own constitution and fundamental human rights.
Today, China, the most populous nation on earth has a strong economy and military strength. Poverty has been wiped out of the lives of millions of people, and the day is not far when China controls the world economy. However, this material prosperity achieved by China is not matched by its records of human rights and freedom of conscience, religious worship, thought and expression. Says James Reynolds, BBC’s correspondent for China: “International human rights groups say that China is a police state in which the government has the power to bully, detain, or even execute citizens who step out of line. In this state, ordinary people are denied their inherent rights. They have to rely instead on the mercy of a state which often shows no compassion towards its most vulnerable citizens”. The voice of the millions of Chinese people, echoed by Liu Xiaobo, cannot remain suppressed for long because without freedom there cannot be genuine peace. Says Dwight D. Eisenhower: “We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom”.