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Nobel Awarded to Jailed Chinese Human Rights Activist Liu Xiaobo

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The jailed Chinese human rights activist and writer Liu Xiaobo has been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison last year after spearheading a petition calling for freedom of assembly, expression and religion in China. For the first time since the 1930s, a representative of the winner is not on hand to collect the award. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Oslo at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. This year’s prize has been awarded to the Chinese pro-democracy leader Liu Xiaobo.

THORBJØRN JAGLAND: We regret that the laureate is not present. He is in isolation in a prison in Northeast China. Nor can the laureate’s wife Liu Xia or his closest relatives be with us. No medal or diploma will ever be presented here today. This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate. We congratulate Liu Xiaobo with this year’s Peace Prize.

AMY GOODMAN: For the first time since the 1930s, a representative of the winner is not on hand to collect the award. Liu Xiaobo’s wife has been under house arrest since October, when the Nobel Prize was announced.

The Nobel Committee’s decision to award Liu Xiaobo has enraged the Chinese government. Here in Cancún, Mexico, Chinese climate negotiators reportedly refused to speak with their Norwegian counterparts.

THORBJØRN JAGLAND: Although none of the committee’s members have ever met Liu, we feel that we know him. We have studied him closely over a long period of time. Liu was born on the 28th of December in 1955 in Changchun in China’s Jilin province. He took a Bachelor’s degree in literature at Jilin University and a Master’s degree and PhD at Beijing Normal University, where he also taught. Stays abroad included visits to Oslo, Hawaii, and Columbia University, New York.

In 1989, he returned home to take part in the dawning democracy movement. On the 2nd of June, he and some friends started a hunger strike on Tiananmen Square to protest against the state of emergency that had been declared. They issued a six-point democratic manifesto, written by Liu, opposing dictatorship and in favor of democracy. Liu was opposed to any physical struggle against the authorities on the part of the students; he tried to find a peaceful solution to the tension between the students and the government. Nonviolence was already figuring prominently in his message. On the 4th of June, he and his friends tried to prevent a clash between the army and the students. He was only partially successful. Many lives were lost, most of them outside Tiananmen Square. Liu has told his wife that he would like this year’s Peace Prize to be dedicated to “the lost souls from the 4th of June,” as he put it. It is indeed a pleasure for us to fulfill his wish.

AMY GOODMAN: Thorbjørn Jagland awarding the Nobel Prize in Oslo, Norway.

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