11 Dec 2010

Nobel Peace Prize formally awarded to Liu Xiaobo

8:00 pm on 11 December 2010

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been formally awarded in Oslo to the jailed Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.

An empty seat was left at the ceremony for Mr Liu, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion. There were two standing ovations for him.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports Chinese authorities have continued to harass Mr Liu's fellow dissidents.

Angered by the award, China has waged a campaign in recent weeks to discredit it. Its foreign ministry condemned the ceremony as a "political farce".

In a statement, the ministry said: "We resolutely oppose any country or any person using the Nobel Peace Prize to interfere with China's internal affairs or infringe upon China's legal sovereignty."

Nobel chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said the Nobel committee was calling for Mr Liu to be freed immediately, saying: "He hasn't done anything wrong."

Mr Jagland placed the Nobel diploma on the empty chair marking Mr Liu's absence.

He compared China's anger to the outcry over peace prizes awarded to other dissidents of their times, including South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

He said Mr Liu was dedicating his prize to "the lost souls from 4 June", those who died in the pro-democracy protests on that date in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989.

"We can say (Mr) Liu reminds us of Nelson Mandela," he said. The former South African president received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Detentions, house arrests reported

The UN says it had information that China detained at least 20 activists ahead of the ceremony.

A further 120 cases of house arrest, travel restriction, forced relocation and other acts of intimidation have been reported.

English and Chinese language websites have been blocked and BBC TV coverage was blacked out inside China during the ceremony.

The Chinese characters for Oslo and "empty chair" are being censored on China's main social network.