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Asia

China restricts human rights activists from travelling

This year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate is detained Chinese civil rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Prior to the ceremony on Friday in Oslo, the Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on dissidents.

The Nobel Peace Prize includes a certificate, prize money and a golden medal

The Nobel Peace Prize includes a certificate, prize money and a golden medal

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was about to fly from China to South Korea. From there, he had to continue his journey to Berlin, and then to Denmark. One hour prior to his departure from Beijing International Airport, Ai Weiwei was getting ready to board his airplane.

He was waiting in the departure lounge when a police officer came in. The police officer wanted to check his passport again, saying there had been some problems with his passport inspection. "At that moment it became clear to me that they wanted to stop me from leaving the country", said Ai. "Later on, she showed me an order issued by the department of public security, stating that my departure would compromise China’s national security."

Exit control list

Ai Weiwei is not only an artist but also an advocate for civil rights in China

Ai Weiwei is not only an artist but also an advocate for civil rights in China

Though Ai Weiwei had no plans to travel to Oslo to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, he believes that the travel restrictions on him are linked to the upcoming ceremony. "The Chinese government is outraged because the Nobel Committee has awarded the prize to Liu Xiaobo. Now, they have put hundreds of people on the exit control list."

Numerous Chinese dissidents, academics and lawyers, including Liu Xiaobo's lawyer, were kept from travelling abroad last week. Apparently, Chinese officials feared that he might also fly to Oslo. According to the Chinese civil rights groups, several other dissidents were denied travel documents by the Chinese government. This includes Sun Wanguan, a university professor from Shandong province in eastern China. He had been invited by Liu Xia, the Nobel laureate’s wife, to come to Norway to attend the ceremony.

Cut off from any contact

Liu Xiaobo is currently serving an 11-year jail term on subversion charges. His wife, who lives in Beijing, is under strict house arrest and is completely cut off from any contact with the outside world. Other human rights activists are under constant surveillance of the Chinese officials.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong hold the picture of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo demanding his release

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong hold the picture of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo demanding his release

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has reiterated its harsh condemnation of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Liu Xiaobo. Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Jiang Yu called the Norwegian committee’s decision politically-motivated.

"Interference in China’s judicial sovereignty"

"This year the Nobel Committee has given the Peace Prize to a convicted criminal. He is currently in jail because he has broken Chinese laws. This is a proof of their overt support to the illegal activities in China – an outright provocation, and an interference in our judicial sovereignty," said Jiang.

China, in return, has come under fire for its stance on Liu. Former Czech President Vaclav Havel and Nobel Peace prize winner Desmond Tutu urged Beijing to free Liu from jail, and his wife from house arrest.

Oslo is gearing up for the prestigious ceremony with neither the laureate nor any of his close associates attending. It is only the second time in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize that neither the peace prize certificate nor the medal or prize money will be handed over personally.

Author: Ruth Kirchner / cvg
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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