11 December 2010

The empty chair

Reported by PBS Newshour of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony

In the speech by Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Oslo, 10 December 2010.
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 to Liu Xiaobo for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace. Such rights are a prerequisite for the "fraternity between nations" of which Alfred Nobel wrote in his will."

This was the first paragraph of the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s announcement on the 8th of October of the award of this year’s Peace Prize.

We regret that the Laureate is not present here today. 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 on this year’s Peace Prize.

There have been a number of previous occasions when the Laureate has been prevented from attending. This has in fact been the case with several awards which have proved in the light of history to have been most significant and honourable. Even when the Laureate has come, he or she has several times been severely condemned by the authorities of his or her own country.

Read more

In an analysis for BBC News, John Simpson suggested that China should have thought through its reaction.

An alternative Chinese award, the Confucius Peace Prize, seemingly hurriedly created, has failed to win any credibility. See report by Steven Jiang of CNN.

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