Wednesday, 8 December 2010


The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who has repeatedly faced imprisonment and surveillance from the Chinese government and is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for "subverting state power" - has rattled more than a few bars. Liu helped write the manifesto, Charter 08, calling for political change in China. The massacre in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 turned him into a Human Rights activist. As a result of his nomination for and his winning of the Nobel Award for his work on Human Rights there is a growing boycott of the award ceremony.

It's interesting to see who apart from China are not going to attend Friday's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Envoys from Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco will so far all miss the event "for various reasons". By way of comparison only ten embassies were absent from the 2008 ceremony which honoured the former Finnish President and UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

The interesting bit may well be the reason why they are not there – some have pretty dreadful human rights records, some are one party repressive totalitarian states (with enough imprisoned dissidents of their own – who don’t want to encourage other Human Rights campaigners a tad closer to home) and others are simply significant recipients of Chinese Foreign Aid. Literally the bullies and the bought! What's even more interesting is how many are portrayed as being our Allies (in the so called War On Terror) - oh the company that we keep!

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