India, 45 other countries attend Nobel peace ceremony

India was among 46 nations, including US&UK which attended the ceremony.

Oslo/New Delhi: Ignoring Chinese
pressure, India on Friday attended the ceremony in Oslo at which
imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was given the Nobel
Peace Prize although he was dubbed as "criminal" by Beijing.

Russia, Pakistan were among the 15 countries which
kept away from the ceremony in view of the strong call made by
China to all governments to boycott the ceremony, which falls
on the World Human Rights Day.

India was among 46 nations, including the US, the UK
and France which attended the ceremony to honour 55-year-old
Liu, who has long been an outspoken opponent of the Chinese
leadership.

Liu could not be present to accept the award because
he is still serving a 11-year sentence for dissidence. In the
past, former Polish President Lech Walesa and Myanmar`s pro-
democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi were not able to take the
award in person because they were incarcerated.

New Delhi has made it clear that its decision to
attend the Nobel Peace Prize presentation was not a bilateral
issue between New Delhi and Beijing.

"This is not a bilateral question between China and
India. This is a Nobel function arranged by the Nobel
foundation.... I think India has already taken a decision to
be represented as... on earlier occasions through our
Ambassador," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had said in
New Delhi yesterday.

The ceremony was also attended by many exiled Chinese
dissidents, ambassadors, Norwegian royals and other
dignitaries who gathered around an empty chair to hail absent
Nobel Peace laureate Liu.

During the ceremony, repeatedly punctuated by applause
and standing ovations, Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern
Jagland said the Nobel award is not "anti-China" and the
panel`s intention was "never to offend anyone".

Speaking about relations between human rights,
democracy and peace, he said the award reminds the world that
the rights enjoyed today by people was because the great risks
taken by many for others.

He said Liu is a symbol of non-violent struggle for
human rights. "Liu has done no wrong and must be released."
"China must be prepared for criticism," Jagland said
at the ceremony where hundreds of delegates surrounded an
empty chair kept in honour of the jailed Chinese dissident
"The empty chair is a very strong symbol (that) shows
how appropriate this prize was," he told a press conference
before the ceremony.

Liu, the writer and former university professor was at
the forefront of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

He was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on
subversion charges after co-authoring "Charter 08", a
manifesto that spread quickly on the Internet calling for
political reform and greater rights in China.

Beijing was enraged by the Norwegian Nobel Committee`s
pick this year, which was announced in October.

The Chinese authorities labelled the laureate a
"criminal" and placed his wife Liu Xia under house arrest.

And the Chinese authorities` fury has mounted in the
run-up to today`s ceremony, threatening "consequences" for
countries that come out in support of Liu and lambasting the
Nobel Committee as "clowns."

PTI

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