Jailed laureate's wife invites dissidents to Nobel ceremony

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 26, 2010 13:23 hrs

Beijing: The wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has invited a group of leading dissidents, lawyers and rights activists to travel to the award ceremony in Norway, sources said Tuesday.

'From the current situation, the possibility of Xiaobo or me going to collect the prize is minute,' Liu's wife, Liu Xia, said in an open letter of invitation to about 140 activists.

'But I believe that Xiaobo would definitely want his friends to attend this historic ceremony and share this honour,' Liu Xia said in the letter, which was published by the US-based Chinese dissident website Democratic China.

Most of those on Liu Xia's list are based in China and are under close police surveillance or house arrest, making it unlikely that the government would allow any of them to travel to Norway for the ceremony Dec 10.

Liu Xia said she had remained under house arrest since Oct 8, the day the prize was announced, and was finding it 'extremely difficult' to maintain contact with the outside world.

Her lawyer, Shang Baojun told DPA that he was unable to confirm the authenticity of the letter 'because I cannot contact Liu Xia'.

Chinese authorities have cut off two mobile phone numbers used by Liu Xia but have allowed her some access to the internet from her Beijing apartment.

Shang said he had sent Liu Xia a digital version of a letter from German President Christian Wulff, which was passed to the lawyer by the German ambassador to China.

Prominent rights lawyer Mo Shaoping, one of those invited to Norway by Liu Xia, said he believed the government would prevent him from leaving China for the event.

'If Liu Xia contacts me in person, I may consider it (going to Norway),' Mo told DPA by telephone.

'But even if I want to go, I may not be able to go,' he said.

Yang Jianli, a US-based dissident entrusted by Liu Xia with organising other Chinese dissidents to attend the award ceremony, told Radio Free Asia that he had already contacted the Nobel Committee, which promised to 'respect Liu Xia's wishes'.

Yang told the US broadcaster he hoped the ceremony would be an 'opportunity for unity and cohesion' among Chinese rights activists and would help to promote democracy in China.

Beijing-based democracy activist Qi Zhiyong, another of those invited by Liu Xia, said his attendance would reflect the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize.

'As a survivor of June 4 (1989), I'm willing to accept this invitation,' said Qi, who lost a leg after he was shot as troops with tanks and live ammunition cleared Beijing's Tiananmen Square of pro-democracy protesters overnight June 3-4, 1989.

'My participation in the prize ceremony would be in accordance with the great significance of the Nobel Prize,' he said.

Liu, a prominent writer and one of China's leading dissidents, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December for his part in writing Charter '08, a petition calling for political reform and democratisation in China.

China's ruling Communist Party reacted angrily to Liu's Nobel, and police have kept many other activists under house arrest or other forms of detention since last week to prevent them from publicly celebrating. 

More from Sify: