Nobel Committee Awards Peace Prize to Jailed Chinese Dissident Skip to main content

Nobel Committee Awards Peace Prize to Jailed Chinese Dissident

Defying outrage from China, the Nobel Committee held a ceremony Friday in the Norwegian capital of Oslo to honor jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, recipient of this year's Nobel Peace prize.

As dignitaries from around the world stood and clapped, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland gently placed the Nobel diploma on the empty chair where Liu would have sat.

In a speech at the ceremony, Jagland noted Liu's imprisonment and regretted that he is not present to receive the award.  He said "this fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate."

Liu was represented at the ceremony by an empty chair because he is serving an 11-year prison sentence in China for subverting state power. China has also placed his wife under house arrest, so she could not attend in his place.
In Beijing, authorities stepped up security in front of the apartment where Liu's wife, Liu Xia lives.  Guards are checking the identities of all who enter, and police cars are positioned on every surrounding corner.

Jagland said despite China's economic strength, its weakness was manifested "in the need to imprison a man for 11 years merely for expressing his opinions on how his country should be governed."

China for weeks had been pressing for a global boycott of Friday's ceremony in Oslo.  Some 18 countries turned down invitations.  About 45 countries agreed to attend the ceremony. 

In a statement Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama said Liu represented "universal" values and urged China to release him as soon as possible. The United States said Thursday the U.S. Ambassador to Norway, Barry White, would attend.

The top United Nations human rights official, Navi Pillay, and prominent human rights groups are also calling for Liu's release.

But China said Thursday it will not give in to international pressure to free him.

Liu Xiaobo participated in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and is one of China's most prominent activists, fighting for greater political freedom and human rights.


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