Torchlights of hope for Liu

Hundreds of Norwegians participated in the annual torchlight parade held in honor of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, even though he couldn’t wave back at them from the balcony of the Grand Hotel. The event wrapped up a long day of Nobel events.

An image of absent Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo had to substitute for his presence on the balcony of the Grand Hotel. PHOTO: Views and News/Morten Most

Last year, Barack and Michele Obama waved to the masses from behind bullet-proof glass on the balcony outside the Grand Hotel’s Nobel Suite, where the Peace Prize winner traditionally stays.

This year, winner Liu Xiaobo remains in isolation in a prison in northeastern China, charged with trying to undermine state authorities because he has expressed hopes for expanded human rights and freedom of expression.

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That didn’t stop Amnesty International from organizing the annual torchlight parade, while appeals were held on the plaza across from the hotel and next to the Norwegian Parliament building.

The parade took place just hours after China’s ambassador in Oslo had once again appeared at the Norwegian Foreign Ministry to protest the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award the prize to Liu, a human rights activist who has worked to ensure freedom of expression in China. The ambassador boycotted the Peace Prize ceremony earlier in the day.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that his staff listened to the ambassador’s protests and reminded him that the Nobel committee functions independently of the Norwegian government.

King Harald and Queen Sonja were on the guest list for the annual Nobel Banquet at the Grand Hotel Friday evening. Nobel Peace Prize Days in Oslo will wrap up on Saturday with the annual Nobel Concert broadcast live from the Oslo Spektrum Arena. It was being hosted by actors Denzel Washington and Anne Hathaway.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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