19 countries to skip Nobel prize ceremony

Dec. 7, 2010 at 7:37 AM
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OSLO, Norway, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The number of countries not attending the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo Friday has grown to 19, the committee said.

As of Monday, 44 embassies indicated they will be represented at the ceremony in Oslo, Norway, two haven't replied and 19 declined invitations for a variety of reasons, the Nobel Prize committee said on its Web site.

China expressed outrage in October when the prize committee announced its award to Liu -- serving an 11-year sentence for subversion -- and indicated relations would be damaged with countries that chose to attend the presentation ceremony.

The prize committee said that, for the first time since 1936, the medal and its accompanying diploma won't be handed to the recipient or a family member because Liu is in prison and his family members have not been permitted to travel to receive them, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Geir Lundestad, the Nobel committee secretary, said an empty chair and a portrait of Liu will be on the podium as the ceremony proceeds with speeches and musical entertainment. Lundestad told the Times the committee wasn't anticipating anyone from Liu's family would attend, but could alter plans quickly if someone did.

Including China, the 19 countries indicating they won't attend the ceremony are Afghanistan, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Venezuela.

The Nobel Web site indicated the last time no one was present to accept the peace medal was in 1936 when German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky was not allowed to leave Nazi Germany.

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