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Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Liu Xiaobo

By Sara Scarlett
October 9th, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Comments Off on Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Liu Xiaobo | Posted in Beautiful men, International Politics

Yesterday Freedom House lauded the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace to Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo. This sentiment has echoed around the web from other freedom loving organisations. I, for one, can’t think of a more deserving winner. If you want to know why then I suggest you read some of his words for yourself:

I have no enemies, and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested and interrogated me, the prosecutors who prosecuted me, or the judges who sentence me, are my enemies. While I’m unable to accept your surveillance, arrest, prosecution or sentencing, I respect your professions and personalities…..

I firmly believe that China’s political progress will never stop, and I’m full of optimistic expectations of freedom coming to China in the future, because no force can block the human desire for freedom. China will eventually become a country of the rule of law in which human rights are supreme. I’m also looking forward to such progress being reflected in the trial of this case, and look forward to the full court’s just verdict ——one that can stand the test of history.

Ask me what has been my most fortunate experience of the past two decades, and I’d say it was gaining the selfless love of my wife, Liu Xia. She cannot be present in the courtroom today, but I still want to tell you, my sweetheart, that I’m confident that your love for me will be as always. Over the years, in my non-free life, our love has contained bitterness imposed by the external environment, but is boundless in afterthought. I am sentenced to a visible prison while you are waiting in an invisible one. Your love is sunlight that transcends prison walls and bars, stroking every inch of my skin, warming my every cell, letting me maintain my inner calm, magnanimous and bright, so that every minute in prison is full of meaning. But my love for you is full of guilt and regret, sometimes heavy enough hobble my steps. I am a hard stone in the wilderness, putting up with the pummeling of raging storms, and too cold for anyone to dare touch. But my love is hard, sharp, and can penetrate any obstacles. Even if I am crushed into powder, I will embrace you with the ashes….

I hope to be the last victim of China’s endless literary inquisition, and that after this no one else will ever be jailed for their speech.

Freedom of expression is the basis of human rights, the source of humanity and the mother of truth. To block freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, to strangle humanity and to suppress the truth.

I do not feel guilty for following my constitutional right to freedom of expression, for fulfilling my social responsibility as a Chinese citizen. Even if accused of it, I would have no complaints.

You can access the full statement here.

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Guest article: A liberal approach to the smoking ban – Dave Atherton

By Mark Littlewood
June 1st, 2009 at 4:51 pm | 30 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

dave-athertonIn case you missed it, yesterday was World No Tobacco Day. Guest contributor Dave Atherton argues for the party to take a more liberal approach to the smoking ban.

“Nearly two years after its introduction, I am still finding it difficult to believe that the smoking ban has not been recommended for amendment by the Liberal Democrats.

It came as a complete surprise when Liberal Democrats voted 5 to 1 for the ban and what were the twenty five absentees doing? Sharing a cigar in Ken Clarke’s office, rolling their own in the Strangers Bar, or being forward thinking and planning the special one-off smoking rooms (for politicians and dignitaries) at this year’s G20 Summit?

The smoking ban was passed largely on the strength of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) which concluded that second hand smoke (SHS) is potentially dangerous. A third of the members were Labour Party apparatchiks, two were members of the fake charity Action On Smoking and Health (ASH), who described their successful PR campaign as a “confidence trick”, six had received funding from pharmaceutical companies, (think how much nicotine replacement therapy products they can sell) and one was a member of the anti-smoking World Health Organization. This left just four who could be claimed to be wholly unbiased. And even one of these – in a private letter to me – admitted that they didn’t understand a basic tenet of epidemiology, Relative Risk.

What has been the net effect of the smoking ban? Since it came into effect, 4,000 pubs, clubs and bingo halls have closed, 40,000 pub staff have been made redundant and another 40,000 are set to lose their jobs in the next two years. How much of this is due to the smoking ban is hard to quantify, but the hard evidence from market analysts AC Nielsen suggests its impact has been very significant indeed.

Scotland brought in their ban in March 2007, and England in July. So there were five months of smoking and non-smoking environments to compare. Beer sales in Scotland decreased by 5%, while in England beer sales rose 4%. The Publican has recently reported that since the ban came in 23% of all bar staff have been laid off.

And have we all packed up smoking? Err no. Across the UK, 21% of women continue to smoke. Amongst men, smoking rates have risen from 23% to 24%. Youth smoking in Scotland is up from 26% to 31%. Has government nannying ever been so ineffective, and destructive?

Can the Liberal Democrats save the day? Yes – by urging Parliament to amend the ban to allow separate, ventilated (keeping the health zealots happy) premises for smoking like in Spain, Germany, Austria and Denmark, thereby allowing a legal pastime to take place on private property. Smoking rates among Labour supporters are around 30%-35% and the LibDems could go a long way to ingratiate themselves to hundreds of thousands disillusioned Labour voters. So, when you go canvassing in the industrial heartlands don’t forget your packet of Golden Virginia, it will go down well.”

Dave Atherton is a national committee member of Freedom To Choose. The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of Liberal Vision (although in this case, there probably isn’t a cigarette paper between us).

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