Photo courtesy Wired
A week or so ago, a veteran editor cum journalist in a conversation on conflict and peace said, his choice for the next peace prize is Julian Assange. Agreed. But what qualifies a person for the Nobel Prize for Peace ? Alfred Nobel said it must be awarded to the person who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding of peace congresses” in his last will left dated, 27th November, 1895.
Nominations for this most prestigious world prize for peace, from among 300 other prizes awarded around the world, is drawing to a close on 01st February, 2011. The question is, can Julian Assange of WikiLeaks be nominated and is he qualified for nominations?
With Liu Xiaobo of China awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace this 2010 year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has, from the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Jean Henry Durant of Switzerland in 1901, awarded the Peace Prize to 12 women out of 98 individuals and 20 organisations, for what Alfred Nobel wrote in his will. Can Julian Assange and WikiLeaks stand equal with them ?
Sincerity and integrity of the Norwegian Nobel Committee was questioned, perhaps for the first time, when they in 2009 decided to award the year’s Peace Prize to the newly elected US President Barack Obama, for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. – official news release”
Obama was in the list of nominees for the Peace Prize with French President Sarkozy, that was reported in February 2009, as having 205 nominees. He was sworn in as the US President, only on 20th January, the same year and within just 01 week, he was eligible to be nominated for the Peace Prize as “President Obama”. By August, in 06 months, he was reviewed for his “performance” along with other nominees and in October, announced as “Nobel Peace Laureate”, having accomplished nothing by then.
There was no change of politics when the Chinese dissident was awarded this year’s (2010) Nobel Prize for Peace, very much qualified though he is, for the prestigious international peace award. Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Peace Prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace.”[quote from official news release] Xiaobo was a democracy activist of Tiananmen Square democracy movement too”.
Politics behind these two awards being no different, the difference lies in one being given for mere election campaign rhetoric, while the other was for a life of sacrifice and long struggle for democracy, in a country that allows no dissent. It would thus be right to continue with the latter norm and criteria in choosing and awarding the 2011 Nobel Prize for Peace. And the winner then has to be “Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame”.
None has sacrificed his or her knowledge and skills as Assange has in the past years, to bring long and jealously guarded secrets of powerful nations, who use “confidentiality and secrecy” as a tool in waging war, in the name of “National Security and war against terrorism”, which in effect is very anti people.
All the bombs air dropped, all Drone attacks, all shelling by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan in the name of “national security” and in “fighting terrorism”, now stand exposed by Assange’s WikiLeaks, as killing thousands more innocent civilians than actual armed “terrorists”. It has exposed that Nobel Peace laureate Obama’s administration is no different to the much ridiculed Bush’s administration in covering up war crimes and justifying war. Assange has exposed ruthless violations of human rights by US forces in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Guantanamo bay and in Abu Ghraib, with specific evidence.
WikiLeaks and Assange have clearly challenged the right of these Super Powers to rule the world as they wish, at the cost of democracy, fundamental and human rights violations, the big powers hide within “global war against terrorism” and safeguarding “national security”, their key words in answering any accusations. Assange has shown the world that these big powers have not been much different to the Burmese military Junta, the Rajapaksa regime or Saddam Hussein for that matter. What ever their praxis, they too talk abundantly of democracy, development and national security.
Contrary to all of them, Assange’s biggest contribution for transparency and accountability in “world governance” is the new and responsible media culture he worked on, in this modern world that very much depends on information traffic through cyber space. Assange has proved that information disseminated through cyber space is best and is with responsibility, when vetted and supervised by long established and credible editorials in the print media. That proves his collaboration with 05 of the world’s best established news papers, before all those sensitive information was released to the public domain.
And, he is being hunted for not what he contributed to the world, but for what he is supposed to have been, in his private life. The West can not afford to say they are hunting down democratic activism like China does. Yet there is little difference between Chinese authoritarianism accused for suppressing democracy and the democratic West that hunts down democratic activism via very suspicious charges on personal life. In the last month of 2010, Australian Assange is being turned into a hunted Chinese Xiaobo.
It is now the turn of the civilised, democratic world citizens to turn Assange into the next peace prize winning Xiaobo in 2011. A sensitive test for all democracies, including the Norwegian Nobel Committee.