Nobel Peace Prize Honors Dissident Liu Xiaobo in Absentia

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The 2010 Nobel peace prize was placed today on an empty chair in Oslo’s city hall in a symbolic act to honor Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese writer and pro-democracy activist who is serving his jail sentence in north-east China.

The Nobel chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland, called for the dissident’s release from prison, comapring him to Nelson Mandela.

"We regret that the laureate is not present here today," Jagland told the audience of about 1,000 people.

"He is in isolation in a prison in north-east China. Nor can the laureate’s wife, Liu Xia, or his closest relatives be here with us. No medal or diploma will therefore be presented here today. This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate. We congratulate Liu Xiaobo with this year’s peace prize."

While Liu was sentenced for 11 years last year for subversion, his wife is under house arrest, so there was no one to collect his award. Liu is a former university academic radicalized by the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest.

China is enraged at the decision to award Liu this prize, because they consider him a criminal.

Norwegian actor Liv Ullman spoke on Liu’s behalf, reading out extracts of his last public address, given last year to the court which was about to sentence him. It’s central message was: "I have no enemies, and no hatred."

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