Nobel Prize awarded to 'empty seat'

It is the second time only in 109 years, that a Nobel Peace Prize has not been given at the ceremony in Oslo, Norway, owing to the absence of its beneficiary, Liu Xiaobo.

This content was published on December 10, 2010 minutes and agencies

On Friday, Chinese dissidents in exile, diplomats and the king and queen of Norway gathered around an empty chair to honour Liu, who is being held in prison in China.

The literature professor was sentenced last Christmas to 11 years in jail for "inciting subversion of state power" by calling for an end to one-party rule in a petition. The Nobel committee chose him to receive the $1.5 million (SFr1.45 million) award despite pressure from the Chinese authorities.

Liu’s wife and brothers were also prevented from attending the ceremony to represent him.

On Friday, International Human Rights Day, a demonstration took place in Beijing ahead of the ceremony, in front of the local United Nations offices. Protestors called for the release of Liu.

In Switzerland, Amnesty International activists gathered on Thursday in front of the Chinese diplomatic representation in the capital Bern to demand freedom for Mao Hengfeng, who has been imprisoned for supporting the peace prize winner.

The last time a Nobel Peace Prize was not handed out wasin 1936, when Adolf Hitler prevented German pacifist Carlvon Ossietzky from accepting his award.

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