The Change.org petition platform empowers anyone, anywhere to create the change they want to see. This is the second post in a two-part series about how Change.org has recently been used to run powerful campaigns related to the Nobel Prize. The first post featured Tarek Fatah's petition on Change.org calling for 15-year-old Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafazi to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
"I think Kafka could not have written anything more absurd and unbelievable than this."
That was how Liu Xia -- wife of the only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner in the world -- described her 26 months of house arrest. Last week, Associated Press reporters sneaked past her guards while they took a lunch break, giving Xia the first chance to tell her story since she was placed under house arrest in 2010, when her husband Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Xia's story is part of a global movement to free her and her husband, which is being led not only by the most prominent intellectuals around the world, but by everyday people as well.
For most countries, a citizen receiving the prestigious Nobel Prize is a source of pride and honour. But it was not so for China when the Nobel committee honoured Liu Xiaobo for his nonviolent efforts to promote democracy, reform, and openness in China.
At the time, Xiaobo was already serving an 11-year prison sentence for writing Charter '08, a political manifesto which promoted peaceful democratic reform and called for greater respect for fundamental human rights and an end to one party rule in China. When the award was announced, his wife was placed under house arrest for no greater crime than being married to him. At the Nobel award ceremony, Xiaobo was represented by an empty chair.
Two years later, on December 4, 2012, 134 Nobel laureates across all six disciplines and from around the world sent an open letter to ascending Chinese leader Xi Jinping, asking for Liu Xiaobo to be released from prison and his wife Liu Xia to be released from house arrest. As part of that effort, Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu started a petition on Change.org to represent the voices of citizens of the world, united together in calling for Xiaobo's freedom.
The response was significant and immediate. In less than 48 hours, a quarter million people from 82 countries had signed Archbishop Tutu's petition. As of publication, it has more than 320,000 signatures and continues to gather support. People have joined the campaign for different reasons. They are Chinese citizens and Chinese expatriates. They are students learning about democracy, and they are people who have travelled to China for years. Some of them, like Moshood F. in Chicago, are even former political prisoners themselves. But they all have one thing in common -- the technology of the Change.org platform has given them the opportunity to unite their voices, become stronger than their individual selves, and make their case for freedom on the global stage.