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March 4, 2021
WORLD

A chair and a photo stand in for Liu Xiaobo at Nobel peace prize ceremony

It was not a special chair. Like the six others next to it on the dais in the cavernous central assembly room of Oslo’s city hall, its frame was of plain varnished hardwood and its fabric of powder blue, white cross-stitches picking out a delicate pattern of flowers and stars and, across the back, three swans flying against a snowy sky, The Guardian reported. Unlike its neighbours, though, which held the solid, smartly turned-out forms of the chairman and members of the Norwegian Nobel committee, it stayed empty. For the first time since 1936, the Nobel peace prize could not be presented today either to its laureate or, as the prize rules require, to a close relative. “No medal or diploma will be presented today,” the committee’s chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, began, opening a simple ceremony of music and readings during which the 1,000-strong audience of diplomats, dissidents-in-exile and Norway’s great and good several times climbed to their feet in prolonged applause. “But this fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate. We congratulate Liu Xiaobo on this year’s peace prize.” Nominated for his “long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”, Liu, a 54-year-old critic and writer, is serving an 11-year prison sentence for inciting subversion after coauthoring Charter 08, an appeal for democratic reform. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since the award was announced last month.


Despite China’s fury at the decision, which it branded an insult to the peace prize, and warnings of “consequences” for nations that attended, some 50 of the 65 embassies in Oslo were represented.
Romania was represented at the level of ambassador, the foreign ministry informed.

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