Imprisoned Chinese dissident Hu Jia was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on October 23, 2008, in a move some hope will lead to his release. Hu Jia, whose work has focused on bringing awareness to issues like AIDS, the environment, and the 1989 pro-democracy movement, was arrested in late 2007 and convicted of subversion after he presented video testimony to the European Parliament about the human rights situation in China.
Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering said the prize was meant to demonstrate that “the European Parliament firmly and resolutely acknowledges the daily struggle for freedom of all Chinese human rights defenders.” The U.S. has been a vocal critic of his arrest, according to State Department spokesman Darby Holladay. Holladay told America.gov that the international community also hopes that the award “will demonstrate to China’s leaders the enormous esteem the international community holds for [Hu Jia’s] important work as a human rights defender, and that China will release him immediately.”
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