Saturday 9 October 2010

Nobel Cause

Good to see the Nobel Peace Prize going to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (see here). Predictably the thugs who run the dictatorship laughably called the "People's Republic" have reacted badly, calling in the Norwegian ambassador who patiently pointed out that the decision had nothing to do with his government - but of course these brutes are unable to comprehend any action not sanctioned by the state.

I have never taken much interest in human rights issues in China (and all credit to those who do in the teeth of the indifference of western governments which say little while sniffing for economic advantage) but I did once spontaneously take direct action on the matter. Back in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics you may recall the human rights and pro-Tibet protests around the world as the Olympic Torch was paraded around. Furious at this affront the Chinese government orchestrated counter-demonstrations of loyal (ie terrified and compliant) overseas Chinese students, one of which I stumbled on in Queen Street, Cardiff, while shopping.

The assembled students were being choreographed by sinister marshals in suits and had placards saying "Hands off China" and suchlike nonsense suggesting it was unfair to complain about the Chinese government's contempt for democracy and the rule of law and their goons' routine use of imprisonment, beating, and torture on anybody who dares raise questions. I stopped and stared, finding it unbearable that this travesty should go unchallenged, and so I started to remonstrate "Shame on you! Shame on your police state!". I suppose I expected them to counter with their own arguments and was prepared to engage in a discussion but in fact their reaction was to go silent and reel back en masse at this verbal assault by what to them must have seemed like an irate giant armed with two Primark bags. I felt instantly guilty at upsetting these innocents and also noticed some stirring by the handful of bobbies keeping an eye. Sensing a possible "Breach of the Peace" situation I ducked back into the crowd and made my way to Zushi (great Japanese restaurant right at the eastern end of Queen Street).

Between mouthfuls of noodles and sashimi Mrs Blog, not impressed, thought I should have stood my ground, got arrested, and made an ironic point in court about their right to protest (and mine) in a free country, blah blah. I did ask my then boss (Hafal's previous Chair Peter Davey) how much trouble I would have been in but was reassured to find that he would happily have been on the barricade himself.

All fun and games which won't make any difference and a million miles from Liu Xiaobo languishing for 11 years in prison. Make a real difference by helping Amnesty International or similar.