By Irving Feng
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China – Mo Yan, the first Chinese national to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012, refused to sign an appeal, supported by 134 other Nobel laureates, calling for the immediate release of detained Chinese rights activist and former Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo.
Former Nobel Peace prize winners, African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Taiwanese-American chemist Yuan Lee, are among the supporters that characterized Liu Xiaobo’s eleven year prison term as a heinous violation of international law.
Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, has also been detained, serving out her sentence under house arrest concurrently with her husband’s. Liu Xia is under 24 hour guarded surveillance in her downtown Beijing apartment with no internet or phone line to connect her to the outside world.
When asked about his opinion regarding his fellow Nobel laureate and compatriot, Liu Xiaobo, Mo Yan refused to answer and told reporters that if they wanted to know his opinion, they should search the internet for the statements that he made back in October when it was first announced he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Liu Xiaobo was arrested and imprisoned by the Chinese government for his criticism of the Communist party and his call for democratic reforms. The Chinese government accused Liu Xiaobo of interfering with the central government’s internal affairs as well as creating issues for the country abroad.
Mo Yan stated, in regards to China’s censorship of Liu Xiaobo, that censorship is necessary to guard against defamation or the spread of damaging false rumors. He did, however, say that censorship should not stand in the way of the truth.
The Chinese author likened the practice of censorship to airport security checks, reinforcing his assertion that censorship was indeed a necessary tool. Mo Yan conveyed that when he was passing through airport security, they wanted to check Yan for any dangerous items, making him take off his belt and shoes. He believes that censorship is as necessary as these airport security checkpoints.
Herta Muller, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009, called Mo Yan’s award a “catastrophe.” Hu Jia, a dissident of the Communist Chinese government also expressed his disappointment, wondering why Yan could not even say one sentence in support of Liu Xiaobo.
Mo Yan maintained that he is an independent thinker and will not be bullied into adopting ideas or making statements that are not his own. He insisted that this is an outlook he has adopted for years and that his prize is about literature and not politics.
The 57 year old author’s real name is Guan Moye. He adopted the pen name “Mo Yan” for his literary works, which, when translated into English means, “don’t speak.”
For further information, please see:
Shanghai Daily – Mo Yan likens censorship to security checks at airports – 7 December 2012
The Guardian – Censorship is a must, says China’s Nobel winner – 6 December 2012
Reuters – Chinese Nobel winner dodges call for laureate’s freedom – 6 December 2012
The Wall Street Journal – Detained China Nobel Wife Speaks Out – 6 December 2012