134 Nobel Laureates Urge Incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to Release Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and Wife Liu Xia

Citizens Petition to Chinese Government Launched at Change.Org by Archbishop Tutu

(Washington, D.C. – New York – Paris – London – Brussels – Geneva) Today, 134 Nobel Peace Laureates across all six Nobel disciplines wrote to incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping, urging him to immediately and unconditionally release Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.  Liu Xia has been under house arrest since shortly after the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced her husband’s selection as the Peace Prize Laureate for 2010.  The letter was released by the International Committee for Liu Xiaobo, which is comprised of six Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and 15 non-governmental organizations. [1]  The Nobel Laureates wrote:

Across all disciplines, the distinguishing feature which led to our recognition as Nobel Laureates is that we have embraced the power of our intellectual freedom and creative inspiration to do our part to advance the human condition. No government can restrict freedom of thought and association without having a negative effect on such important human innovation.

Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu (Peace 1984) and Sir Richard Roberts (Physiology or Medicine 1993) are leading this initiative with the support of Freedom Now, which serves as international counsel to both Liu Xiaobo and his wife.  The letter from Nobel Laureates sends a powerful message to the Chinese government that releasing Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia will send a positive signal about the new leadership’s priorities and that their ongoing detention hinders China’s development and damages its international stature:

“I hope that the Chinese authorities appreciate the diversity of extraordinary achievement represented by the Nobel Laureates who have written to them today,” said Archbishop Tutu. “Our effort is not to embarrass China but rather to implore the government to take a different approach that would help China develop in the best way for all its people,” he noted.  “By releasing Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, China can demonstrate its strength and show that it is not fearful of those who seek dialogue about the most effective ways to reform its government,” added Richard Roberts.

In addition to launching this letter today, Archbishop Tutu, on behalf of his fellow Laureates, launched a global citizen petition drive to the incoming Chinese President urging Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia’s immediate release.

For further information, please contact:

  • Jared Genser, Freedom Now and International Counsel to Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia (English): jgenser@freedom-now.org, +1-202-320-4135
  • Marie Holzman, China Solidarity (French, Mandarin):
    marie@holzman.fr, +33-630-809-281
  • Emmanouil Athanasiou, International Committee for Liu Xiaobo Secretariat (French, English, Greek): emathanasiou@gmail.com, + 33-685-735-495


[1] The International Committee for Liu Xiaobo is composed of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Ms. Tawakkol Karman, Ms. Mairead Maguire, Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, Ms. Betty Williams, and Ms. Jody Williams as well as the following non-governmental organizations: Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT), Act for Human Rights (ADH), Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development (CCFD- Terre Solidaire), China Solidarity, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China, International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Freedom Now, Human Rights Foundation (HRF), Human Rights League (LDH), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Global Justice Center (GJC), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM).  Until his passing, former Czech Republic President Václav Havel served on the Committee as well.

December 4, 2012The Honorable Xi Jinping
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
Zhongnanhai, Xichengqu, Beijing City
People’s Republic of China
Dear Mr. Xi,

As you have taken the first step towards assuming the presidency of the People’s Republic of China, we write to welcome the prospect of fresh leadership and new ideas. To that end, we respectfully urge you to release Dr. Liu Xiaobo, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel   Prize Laureate, and his wife, Liu Xia.

On December 25, 2009, your government sentenced Dr. Liu, a highly respected intellectual and democracy advocate, to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion.” The charges were based on his political essays and co-authorship of “Charter 08,” which called for  full political reform in China based on the principles of human rights, freedom, and democracy. Shortly after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Dr. Liu its   Prize, the government placed Liu Xia under house arrest, where she remains cut off from the outside world two years later without charge or the benefit of any legal process. In response to the continued detentions of Dr. Liu and Liu Xia, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, an independent and impartial body of experts, issued Opinions No. 15-16/2011, finding their detentions to be in violation of international law; however, despite this finding their cases remain unresolved.

Across all disciplines, the distinguishing feature which led to our recognition as Nobel Laureates is that we have embraced the power of our intellectual freedom and creative inspiration to do our part to advance the human condition. No government can restrict freedom of thought and association without having a negative effect on such important human innovation. Indeed, we Laureates are distressed that your government continues to block access to the main Nobel Prize web site (www.nobelprize.org).

During former Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the United States in 2011, he recognized that “a lot still needs to be done in China on human rights.” While we welcome such honest assessments, we hope that China’s new political leadership will move past merely recognizing the problem and seize this important opportunity to take concrete steps towards embracing the fundamental rights of all Chinese citizens. An essential first step is the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.


134 Nobel Prize Laureates

Name: Prize: Year:
Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
Aaron Ciechanover Chemistry 2004
Paul J. Crutzen Chemistry 1995
Robert F. Curl Jr. Chemistry 1996
Johann Deisenhofer Chemistry 1988
Richard R. Ernst Chemistry 1991
Gerhard Ertl Chemistry 2007
Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
Robert H. Grubbs Chemistry 2005
Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
Avram Hershko Chemistry 2004
Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
Robert Huber Chemistry 1988
Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
Sir Harold Kroto Chemistry 1996
Yuan T. Lee Chemistry 1986
Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
Kary B. Mullis Chemistry 1993
John C. Polanyi Chemistry 1986
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan Chemistry 2009
Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
Jens C. Skou Chemistry 1997
Thomas A. Steitz Chemistry 2009
Roger Y. Tsien Chemistry 2008
Sir John E. Walker Chemistry 1997
Kurt Wuthrich Chemistry 2002
Ada E. Yonath Chemistry 2009
Kenneth J. Arrow Economics 1972
Peter A. Diamond Economics 2010
Daniel Kahneman Economics 2002
Finn E. Kydland Economics 2004
Robert E. Lucas Jr. Economics 1995
Harry M. Markowitz Economics 1990
Eric S. Maskin Economics 2007
Daniel L. McFadden Economics 2000
James A. Mirrlees Economics 1996
Dale T. Mortensen Economics 2010
Roger B. Myerson Economics 2007
Douglass C. North Economics 1993
Thomas J. Sargent Economics 2011
Thomas C. Schelling Economics 2005
Vernon L. Smith Economics 2002
Oliver E. Williamson Economics 2009
M. Coetzee Literature 2003
Gunter Grass Literature 1999
Elfriede Jelinek Literature 2004
Toni Morrison Literature 1993
Herta Muller Literature 2009
Tomas Transtromer Literature 2011
Mario Vargas Llosa Literature 2010
David Baltimore Medicine 1975
Francoise Barre-Sinoussi Medicine 2008
J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
Gunter Blobel Medicine 1999
Sydney Brenner Medicine 2002
Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
Sir Martin J. Evans Medicine 2007
Andrew Z. Fire Medicine 2006
Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
Alfred G. Gilman Medicine 1994
Paul Greengard Medicine 2000
Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
Roger Guillemin Medicine 1977
Sir John B. Gurdon Medicine 2012
Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
Harald zur Hausen Medicine 2008
H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
David H. Hubel Medicine 1981
Tim Hunt Medicine 2001
Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
Rita Levi-Montalcini Medicine 1986
Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
Joseph E. Murray Medicine 1990
Erwin Neher Medicine 1991
Sir Paul Nurse Medicine 2001
Christiane Nusslein-Volhard Medicine 1995
Stanley B. Prusiner Medicine 1997
Sir Richard J. Roberts Medicine 1993
Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
John E. Sulston Medicine 2002
Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
E. Donnall Thomas Medicine 1990
J. Robin Warren Medicine 2005
Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
Amnesty International Peace 1977
Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo Peace 1996
Mairead Maguire Peace 1976
Shirin Ebadi Peace 2003
Leymah Roberta Gbowee Peace 2011
Tawakkul Karman Peace 2011
The 14th Dalai Lama Peace 1989
Jose Ramos-Horta Peace 1996
Desmond Tutu Peace 1984
Elie Wiesel Peace 1986
Betty Williams Peace 1976
Jody Williams Peace 1997
Zhores I. Alferov Physics 2000
Leon N. Cooper Physics 1972
James Cronin Physics 1980
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
Andre Geim Physics 2010
Riccardo Giacconi Physics 2002
Donald A. Glaser Physics 1960
Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
Roy J. Glauber Physics 2005
David J. Gross Physics 2004
John L. Hall Physics 2005
Serge Haroche Physics 2012
Antony Hewish Physics 1974
Gerardus ‘t Hooft Physics 1999
Brian D. Josephson Physics 1973
Charles K. Kao Physics 2009
Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
Klaus von Klitzing Physics 1985
Leon M. Lederman Physics 1988
Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
John C. Mather Physics 2006
Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
William D. Phillips Physics 1997
H. David Politzer Physics 2004
Robert C. Richardson Physics 1996
Adam G. Riess Physics 2011
Heinrich Rohrer Physics 1986
Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
Jack Steinberger Physics 1988
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
Charles H. Townes Physics 1964
Steven Weinberg Physics 1979
Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978