The leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee was denied a visa to China on Friday. Berit Reiss-Andersen wanted to take part in the funeral of Nobel Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo, who died on Thursday, but her visa application wasn’t even accepted.
Reiss-Andersen, a prominent Norwegian attorney by profession and member of the Norwegian Labour Party, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that she was told her visa application was rejected because it’s allegedly “not possible to visit a person who’s dead.”
Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 but was never allowed to accept it. The 61-year-old Nobel Laureate was serving an 11-year prison sentence at the time because of his efforts to promote democracy and human rights in China. He died of complications from liver cancer while still in custody.
“Liu Xiaobo is a special Peace Prize winner, who sat in prison when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,” Reiss-Andersen said. “He died in that same custody, and this is an extremely special situation.”
Reiss-Andersen went to the Chinese Embassy in Oslo Friday morning to seek permission to travel to China for Liu’s funeral. She said it was important to the Norwegian Nobel Committee to pay its respects to a Peace Prize winner and formally acknowledge his death.
She had filled out the necessary papers, only to be told that she could not deliver them. In order to apply for a visa, either Liu’s widow or other members of his family would need to invite her to China, Reiss-Andersen was told.
Liu’s widow, Liu Xia, has been held in house arrest since 2010 as well, and denied all contact with the outside world. Other family members have also reportedly been harassed or threatened to remain silent by Chinese authorities.
Reiss-Andersen issued a statement on behalf of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thursday that mourned the death of Liu and was critical of the Chinese government. It directly claimed that the Chinese Government “bears a heavy responsibilty for his premature death.” Read the entire Nobel Committee statement here (external link).