This article about Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize, incorrectly said that this would be the first year since 1936 that the award would not be presented to a laureate in person. The children of Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi accepted the prize on her behalf in 1991. And the last such instance before that, when Adolf Hitler prevented German activist Carl von Ossietzky from accepting his prize, was in 1935, not 1936.
Parts of Nobel Peace ceremony may be delayed
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 8:53 PM
SHANGHAI - Parts of this year's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony may be postponed because the recipient, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, remains in prison and his family members have been prevented from leaving China to attend the event on his behalf, according to Nobel committee organizers and supporters of Liu.
The event will be held in Oslo on Dec. 10 as scheduled, organizers said, but the awarding of the Peace Prize medal and the accompanying diploma and a check for $1.4 million might be delayed. Instead, according to supporters, text messages from Liu and perhaps some of his past writings may be read aloud.
Meanwhile, half a dozen countries, including China, have said they will not send diplomatic representatives to the ceremony. Those bowing to Chinese demands for a boycott are Russia, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Iraq. But officials of the Norwegian Nobel Committee told wire services Thursday that diplomats from about 36 other countries have confirmed they will attend.
Since Liu, a prominent writer and pro-democracy activist, was awarded the prize Oct. 8, the Chinese government has reacted furiously, repeatedly branding him a criminal, threatening diplomatic relations with Norway and warning other countries that if they sent representatives to Oslo they would risk unspecified "consequences."
Domestically, the Chinese government has begun a crackdown on known activists, dissidents, human rights lawyers and supporters of Liu, including his wife, Liu Xia. People have been detained, committed to house arrest and had their telephone and Internet lines severed, and some have been stopped at the airport as they were leaving the country, for fear they might try to attend to the Nobel ceremony.
Liu Xia, in a message sent before her communications were cut off, had urged a hundred of Liu Xiaobo's supporters to travel to Oslo to celebrate the award. That appeal appeared to trigger the government restrictions on activists' airport departures - even against those who said they had no intention of traveling to Oslo. Liu's brothers indicated that they would be willing to travel to Norway to collect the prize on Liu's behalf, but they, too, have apparently been prevented from leaving.
The Nobel committee rules stipulate that the prize, including the money, must be collected by the recipient or a close family member. The last time no one was able to collect the prize was in 1936, when winner Carl von Ossietzky was prohibited from leaving Nazi Germany.
Others have been jailed when they were awarded the prize, including Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released last week from her latest round of house arrest.
Liu was sentenced in December to 11 years in prison for his part in circulating an Internet manifesto and petition, called Charter 08, calling for greater democracy in China.
Yang Jianli, a longtime dissident who is now a Harvard-based researcher, said Liu Xia had asked him on Oct. 15 to work with the Nobel committee to prepare the December ceremony. But he said the committee insisted that anything read at the ceremony be either from Liu Xiaobo or Liu Xia, and he was cut off from both of them.
Yang said that it was unclear whether he could get a statement from Liu or his wife, but that one option was to read from some of Liu's past writings. "It's a very technical thing," he said in an earlier interview. "We are working on many fronts."