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U.N. calls on China to release Liu Xiaobo

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay requested that China release Liu Xiaobo from prison, who is a political dissident in his native country and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Liu Xiaobo faces an 11-year prison sentence for his advocacy of human rights and democratic reform in China. The request was made on the eve of this year's Human Rights Day in honor of the "dangers and abuse to which human rights defenders around the world are subjected," reports VOANews.com.

The Nobel Peace Prize Panel also defended their nomination of Xiaobo for the prize on Thursday.

"This prize conveys the understanding that these are universal rights and universal values, they are not Western standards," Thorbjoern Jagland said in response to Beijing's conviction that "universal" is a codeword for "Western," reports Reuters. "It is a signal to China that it would be very important for China's future to combine economic development with political reforms and support for those in China fighting for basic human rights."

Censorship and imprisonment of political offenders in China has been the norm since the Communist Party gained power in 1949, according to GlobalIssues.org.
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