A dignified and emotional Nobel Peace Prize ceremony took place in Oslo on 10 December. Liu Xiaobo was given a standing ovation at the award ceremony on Friday as dignitaries demanded his release.
Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland called for Liu’s release. “He has not done anything wrong. He must be released.” He emphasized the fact that neither Liu nor his closest relatives were allowed to represent the ceremony. “This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate.”
Mr Jagland then placed the medal and certificate normally awarded to the laureate in the empty chair upon the stage, triggering another standing ovation lead by the King of Norway. The symbolism of the empty chair drove many guests attending the occasion to tears.
In the speech of Mr. Jagland, he said that Liu Xiaobo is the Chinese Nelson Mandela. There need no more words to describe this statement.
Norwegian actress Liv Ullman read Liu’s final statement, “I Have No Enemies,” which he delivered in a Chinese court in 2009 before he was jailed. The statement was so appropriate for the occasion filled with messages of peace, compassion and forgiveness and respect for fellow human being that there were no doubts left for awarding the peace prize to Liu Xiaobo.
Dignitaries left the ceremony with a more sobering image. “I think they will remember the empty chair,” said Nobel committee Secretary Geir Lundestad.” [Its symbolism] speaks volumes about this year’s laureate and the importance of the prize.”
The city hall was filled with more than a thousand invited guests. The Nobel banquet dinner took place at the Grand Hotel with the Norwegian King and Queen and Prime Minister and his Cabinet of Ministers and 200 other guests.
The Nobel Peace Concert on 11 December was hosted by Anne Hathaway and Denzel Washington. There were 6000 people attending the concert and it was broadcast by Norwegian National TV and also shown all over the world. The Norwegian singer Sivert Høyem inaugurated the concert with his moving song called “The Prisoner”. No other song was more appropriate. Feelings of great respect for Liu Xiaobo were inevitable.
Lix Xiaobo’s only crime is for exercising his freedom of speech and so he lost his all freedom behind the bars of Chinese prison. I was very honoured to be invited to all the above official programmes; I attended on behalf of the Norwegian Tibet Committee.
Here are some of my photos of the events: