Friday, November 26, 2010

Oslo to postpone Liu Xiaobo Nobel peace prize ceremony 挪威诺奖委员会首次推迟授奖典礼


Oslo to postpone Liu Xiaobo Nobel peace prize ceremony


From: AP, AFP November 20, 2010 12:00AM

FOR the first time in the 109-year-history of the Nobel Peace Prize neither the laureate nor a representative is expected to show up to receive the award.

And following threats from Beijing of "consequences", at least six countries have turned down an invitation for their ambassadors to attend the December 10 ceremony in honour of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo next month.

"The six who have said no are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Morocco and Iraq," Nobel Institute director Geir Lundestad said.

China's rulers were enraged by the decision to give the 2010 prize to Liu, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison last December on subversion charges after co-authoring a manifesto calling for political reform in China.

The Chinese embassy in Oslo sent a letter to other countries' missions in the city requesting that they refrain from attending the ceremony.

Most Western countries, including the US, Britain, France and Germany have said they will attend. Norwegian media reported that the embassies of India, Pakistan and Indonesia were among those that had said they were waiting for clearance from their governments.

"For an embassy to actively try to persuade other embassies to not participate in the ceremony is something new," Mr Lundestad said.

The prestigious 10 million kronor ($1.47m) award can only be collected by the laureate or close family members. Liu's wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest and subject to police escort since the award was announced last month. Mr Lundestad said no other relatives had announced plans to come to Oslo.

"The way it looks now, it is not likely that someone from his close family will attend," he added. "Then we will not give out the medal and the diploma during the ceremony."

The committee's chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland, also said the prize would probably not be awarded. "But he will be present during the ceremony by a reading of his text."

Mr Lundestad said the committee had not lost hope. "If someone shows up at the last minute, it will not be a problem to change plans," he said.

Liu Xiaobo has three brothers, the best-known being Liu Xiaoxuan, the youngest. A Hong Kong-based human rights group has reported that two of the brothers, as well as Liu Xiaobo's brother-in-law, Liu Tong, have been unable to visit Liu in prison despite repeated requests.

Friends of the couple say all of Liu's closest family members are under tight police surveillance aimed at preventing them from attending the ceremony. Liu Xiaoxuan had been told by his employer not to go, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

When reached by phone yesterday, Liu Xiaoxuan said he was not allowed to accept interviews.

Mr Lundestad said the Chinese embassy had returned all Nobel correspondence unopened.

The peace prize program includes a banquet and a concert held in the laureate's honour.

Organisers said yesterday that the concert would be co-hosted by actors Anne Hathaway and Denzel Washington and feature performances by Barry Manilow, Jamiroquai, A.R. Rahman, Herbie Hancock and Elvis Costello among others.

Mr Lundestad, meanwhile, cautioned that "there are always some ambassadors who don't come for one reason or another . . . In 2008, for example, 10 ambassadors were not present."

He added that "there is not always a political reason" ambassadors turn down the invitation.

"We just send them a card. We just ask 'yes' or 'no'?

"They don't have to give a reason; we don't ask."


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