Nobel Peace Prize Faces Boycott Over Liu Xiaobo

China and 18 other countries have said they will not attend Friday's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has said. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran are among those that refused. Chinese officials earlier said a "vast majority" of the world community would stay away from the ceremony.

(BBC)

China and 18 other countries have said they will not attend Friday's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has said.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran are among those that refused.

Chinese officials earlier said a "vast majority" of the world community would stay away from the ceremony.

Liu Xiaobo is praised for his "long and non-violent struggle"The committee describes Mr Liu as "the foremost symbol" of the human rights struggle in China.

It said in a statement that the envoys of Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco would miss the event "for various reasons".

It said that two more countries, Sri Lanka and Algeria, had not replied, and 44 would attend.

The United Nations' most senior human rights official, Navi Pillay, has been criticised for saying she will not attend.

By way of comparison, the statement said that 10 embassies were absent from the 2008 ceremony for former Finnish President and UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari.
'A few clowns'

A pro-democracy protester wearing a mask of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo protests outside the Chinese government liaison office in Hong Kong Sunday. Protesters rallied in Hong Kong on Sunday for the release of the jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Meanwhile Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that more than 100 countries supported Beijing.

"Those at the Nobel Committee are orchestrating an anti-China fuss by themselves," Ms Jiang said.

"We are against anybody making an issue out of Liu Xiaobo and interfering in China's judicial affairs," she said. "We will not change because of interference by a few clowns."

Mr Liu, 54, was a key leader in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Last year he received an 11-year sentence for "inciting subversion" after drafting Charter 08 - which called for multi-party democracy and respect for human rights in China.

The Nobel Foundation citation read: "Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China's own constitution and fundamental human rights."

It praised Mr Liu for his "long and non-violent struggle" and highlighted its belief in a "close connection between human rights and peace".

However, neither he nor members of his family will be allowed to receive the prize in person.

His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since the award was announced, and friends and supporters have been prevented from leaving China.

BBC