19 countries to miss Nobel ceremony

2010-12-07 16:06
Oslo - China and 18 other countries will not attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honouring Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, officials said, an announcement that comes after a Chinese campaign to dissuade diplomats from showing up.

Embassy representatives, including from Russia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, have turned down an invitation to the December 10 event in Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee said. At least 44 of the 65 embassies that have been invited have accepted the invitation, it added.

China was infuriated when the committee awarded the prestigious prize to Liu, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion after co-authoring an appeal calling for reforms to China's one-party political system.

Only one of about 140 Chinese activists invited by Liu's wife has confirmed he will attend the prize ceremony in the Norwegian capital, according to organisers.

Others have been stopped from leaving China or placed under tight surveillance in a crackdown on dissenters following the prize announcement.

Nobel officials have said that none of Liu's relatives were expected to travel to Oslo to collect the prize on Liu's behalf. But his wife, Liu Xia, had invited scores of activists and luminaries to attend Friday's ceremony in an open letter posted online.

Earlier on Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry denounced backers of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as "clowns".

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told reporters in Beijing that the Nobel committee was "orchestrating an anti-China farce by themselves".

Other countries not planning on attending Friday's ceremony at Oslo City Hall include Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Colombia and Egypt.

It is not unusual that a small number of countries do not attend the ceremony for various reasons. In 2008, when former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari was awarded the prize, 10 embassies did not attend.

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