Friday, November 19, 2010

Nobel Winner’s Absence May Delay Awarding of Prize

Wall Street Journal
November 18, 2010

During the depths of the cold war, when the Soviet physicist and human rights advocate Andrei D. Sakharov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Kremlin barred him from leaving the country. But the authorities allowed his wife to collect the award in his stead.

Confronted with a similar challenge in 1983, the Polish authorities permitted the wife of the trade unionist Lech Walesa to travel to Oslo on his behalf. In 1991, the son of the Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered the acceptance speech for his mother, who was being held under house arrest.

But the Chinese government has come up with a less magnanimous approach to the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to give the peace prize to the dissident Liu Xiaobo, 54, who is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion. Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, has been held incommunicado since news of the award broke last month, and the government has been waging a muscular offensive to rebrand the prize as a Western ploy to undermine the Chinese Communist Party’s hold on power.