Peace Nobel may not be handed out

December ceremony to proceed but award may not be given out if family of jailed winner Liu Xiaobo fails to attend.

    The only registered guests from Liu's side are those from the Chinese diaspora or Chinese people from Hong Kong [AFP]

    The Nobel Peace Prize might not be handed out this year because no one from imprisoned winner Liu Xiaobo's family is likely to attend the ceremony, the award committee has announced.

    Geir Lundestad, the Nobel Institute director, said on Thursday that the December 10 prize ceremony would go ahead, but the Nobel Peace Prize medal, diploma, and award of $1.4m would not be handed out.

    "It seems that Liu Xiaobo's family has given up hope that someone in the laureate's family will be able to travel from China and be present in Oslo on December 10," Lundestad told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.

    Liu, a Chinese dissident, is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion, after co-authoring an appeal calling for reforms to China's one-party political system.

    His wife has been under house arrest since the award was announced last month.

    Historical precedent

    It would be the first time in the prize's 109-year-history that neither the laureate nor a representative will show up to receive the award.

    On three previous occasions the Peace Prize winner was unable to make it to Oslo, but each time a representative attended the Oslo ceremony and collected the prize on behalf of the winner.

    This occurred most recently in 1936, when no one was present to accept the medal and diploma for journalist Carl von Ossietzky, who was seriously ill and was refused permission to leave Nazi Germany.

    However, a representative of Ossietzky received the prize money.

    Lundestad said the committee does not know for certain whether someone from Liu's family will attend.

    "If someone shows up at the last minute, it will not be a problem to change plans," he said.

    Chinese pressure

    Friends of the award winner say all of Liu's closest family members are under tight police surveillance aimed at preventing them from attending the ceremony.

    Liu Xiaobo has three brothers, the most publicly known being his youngest sibling, Liu Xiaoxuan, who has also been told by his employer not to go, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, said.

    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.

    China has called Liu a criminal and has pressured countries not to send representatives to the ceremony at Oslo's City Hall.

    Declined invitations

    Thus far, 36 ambassadors have accepted the invitation to the ceremony, and 16 ambassadors have not yet replied. Some of them have asked for more time to decide, Lundestad said.

    Ambassadors from Russia, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Iraq have declined invitations, but did not specify the reasons.

    Vladimir Isupov, a Russian embassy spokesman, said his country's ambassador would not be in Norway at the time of the award ceremony.

    "It is not politically motivated and we do not feel we are pressured by China," he said.

    The December ceremony will include a concert hosted by US actor Denzel Washington and featuring musicians like singer-song writer Elvis Costello, R&B singer India Arie, and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

    Barry Manilow, AR Rahman, and Jamiroquai are also scheduled to perform.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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