Dec 10, 2010

Empty chair to represent L. Xiaobo at Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

Time is knocking. Stage is set for awarding Nobel Peace Prize 2010. But the central of attraction, the Chief Guest will not be present. He is in jail. He is hearing the sounds and shows of the ceremony. However, the ambassadors, royalty and VIPs to take their seats in Oslo's modernest City Hall on Friday for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, there will be one chair left empty for this year's winner Mr. Liu Xiaobo.

Chinese authorities have placed Liu's supporters, including his wife Liu Xia, under house arrest to prevent anyone from picking up his prize.

Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, democracy spokesman in China, is serving an 11-year prison sentence in China on subversion charges brought after he co-authored a bold call for sweeping changes to Beijing's one-party communist political system.

On Thursday, Chinese police surrounded Liu's house in Beijing. Officers guarded the entrance to the residential compound and checked the identities of all who entered. About a dozen journalists stood outside while officers patrolled inside the compound in central Beijing.

China was infuriated when the prestigious USD 1.4 million prize was awarded to the 54-year-old literary critic, describing it as an attack on its political and legal system.

Beijing has also pressured foreign diplomats to stay away from Friday's ceremony. China and 18 other countries have declined to attend, including Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.

At least 45 of 65 embassies in Oslo have accepted invitations.

Nobel committee secretary Geir Lundestad said Liu will be represented ‘by an empty chair ... the strongest possible argument’ for awarding it to him.

It will be the first time the peace prize will not be handed out since 1936, when Adolf Hitler prevented German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from accepting the award.

The prize can be collected only by the laureate or close family members.

Cold War dissidents Andrei Sakharov of the Soviet Union and Lech Walesa of Poland were able to have their wives collect the prizes for them.

Myanmar democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi's award was accepted by her 18-year-old son in 1991.

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