Nobel peace award unlikely to be given at December ceremony

Thursday, November 18, 2010

OSLO - Chances are slim that the Nobel Peace Prize would be presented at the December ceremony as neither its winner nor a member of his family would be able to attend, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Thursday.

Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo, a writer and one of China’s leading dissidents, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December for his part in writing the Charter ‘08 for democratic reform.

His wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest in Beijing and the laureate’s brothers are also unable to travel to Norway for the Dec 10 ceremony.

Since only family members are allowed to accept the award on behalf of a laureate there would be no award presentation, committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland told the Aftenposten daily during a visit to the US.

In 1991, democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar was unable to attend the ceremony in Oslo City Hall as she was under house arrest. Her husband and sons represented her in Oslo.

Jagland said he was not surprised by China’s response to the decision to give Liu the award.

The 2010 award will likely “prove to be one of the most important” in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, Jagland said. “The prize is such a strong force that it will bring about change.”

Historian Asle Sveen said China’s attempts to pressure other countries to stay away from the ceremony were comparable with those of Germany 75 years ago, when peace activist Carl von Ossietzky won the award.

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