Students give voice to freedom

Noosa Pengari Steiner School students participating in a public poetry reading for Chinese author Lin Xiaobo are (from back left) Jack Quinn, Godwin Runge, Jonas Campbell, (front) Harry Walker, Hannah Smith-Phasey and Florian Poff.
Noosa Pengari Steiner School students participating in a public poetry reading for Chinese author Lin Xiaobo are (from back left) Jack Quinn, Godwin Runge, Jonas Campbell, (front) Harry Walker, Hannah Smith-Phasey and Florian Poff. Geoff Potter

NOOSA Pengari Steiner students will stand tall, proud and free next week as they give public readings from the works of imprisoned Chinese poet and literary scholar Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The students' freedom to read Liu Xiaobo's poems in public stands in stark contrast to the artist charged with "inciting subversion of state power", yet awarded the peace prize, "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China," Nobel Committee chair Thorbjørn Jagland said.

Liu was arrested three years ago. Twelve months later he received a sentence of 11 years' imprisonment.

After the announcement of Liu's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese authorities put his wife, Liu Xia, under strict house arrest.

She vanished from the public sphere on October 18, 2010, and no one has been able to reach her by phone or internet.

Steiner School English teacher Shelley Davidow said the reading was part of world-wide event by Berlin International Literature Festival, but this local event was to connect students to the community and the community to the wider world.

Ms Davidow said her own experiences gave her an understanding of censorship and the punishment faced by artists.

"I couldn't get my books published during apartheid in South Africa," she said.

Ms Davidow, an author of multiple books, came to Australia in 1992.

The students invite Noosa community members to help raise awareness of the plight of incarcerated voices of freedom by attending this free event on March 20 at 9.15am at the school hall.

Email or ph 5471 0199 for information.

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