Monday, December 13, 2010

The Empty Chair of Liu Xiaobo At Nobel Prize Ceremony

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. An empty chair held the award symbolically.

It was the first time in 74 years the prestigious $1.4 million award was not handed over, because Liu is serving an 11-year sentence in China on subversion charges for urging sweeping changes to Beijing's one-party communist political system.

The last time an empty chair was tasked with representing an awardee was 1936, when Carl von Ossietzky, a German pacifist jailed by the Nazi regime, was prevented from attending the ceremony

The Chinese government was in full censorship mode as the ceremony date approached.

The Web sites of the BBC, CNN, Britain's Channel 4 and Norwegian television NRK were blocked starting Thursday, preventing live streaming. On Friday, CNN and BBC television broadcasts were on the air for people with satellite dishes, but with intermittent blackouts during some segments.

Various news Web sites remained inaccessible, with a message saying the sites are "temporarily unavailable."

Some Beijing cafe and restaurant owners have been warned by police not to allow any Nobel celebrations or demonstrations at their establishments.

His family was not allowed by the Chinese government to attend the ceremony.

The man is an intellectual in China. The man is a literary critic.

China's Communist government has ratcheted up the rhetoric since the October announcement that the prize would go to Liu, a bespectacled 54-year-old dissident who is serving an 11-year prison sentence in China's northern Liaoning province for "inciting subversion of state power."

Liu was jailed after authoring Charter '08, a pro-democracy manifesto that was published Dec. 10, 2008 and has since been signed by more than 10,000 people inside and outside China.

In typical narcissist Obama response, he said, after the ceremony, he regretted that Liu and his wife were not allowed to go to the ceremony as he and first lady Michelle Obama did when he won the peace prize last year.

"Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was," he said.

What an understatement. How sad that our president is so ego-driven that he actually even preens about his own award at a time like this. Obama made a mockery of the status of an award when he was given one before he accomplished anything to merit it. It was presented to him for winning the presidential election, not for a worthy act. It was an embarrassment. But, as usual, it is always all about Barack Obama for Barack Obama.

Obama continued the embarrassment by making a congratulatory statement to Liu Xiaobo all about himself.

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