Nobel Peace laureate and Chinese national Liu Xiaobo, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power,” was not present at the December 10 ceremony honoring his prize. Nor was his wife, who has been under house arrest since the Nobel announcement and is apparently now missing.
Instead, an empty chair sat on the Oslo stage between the Nobel Committee members, marking the first time a recipient was not physically present to accept the award. And as panel chief Thorbjoern Jagland placed the Nobel diploma on the chair, it was clear Liu’s presence was felt by the 1,000-person audience, who delivered a standing ovation.
The honoree’s final public statement, issued days before his imprisonment and read aloud at the Nobel ceremony by actress Liv Ullmann, included a message (translated here) for his beloved:
If I may be permitted to say so, the most fortunate experience of these past twenty years has been the selfless love I have received from my wife, Liu Xia. She could not be present as an observer in court today, but I still want to say to you, my dear, that I firmly believe your love for me will remain the same as it has always been. Throughout all these years that I have lived without freedom, our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savor its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body, allowing me to always keep peace, openness, and brightness in my heart, and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning. My love for you, on the other hand, is so full of remorse and regret that it at times makes me stagger under its weight. I am an insensate stone in the wilderness, whipped by fierce wind and torrential rain, so cold that no one dares touch me. But my love is solid and sharp, capable of piercing through any obstacle. Even if I were crushed into powder, I would still use my ashes to embrace you.
Read the full address, entitled I Have No Enemies, here.
Filed under: Activists, China, Great Loves, Human Rights, I Have No Enemies, Imprisonment, Liu Xia, Liu Xia Missing, Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xiaobo Empty Chair, Nobel Committee, Nobel Diploma, Nobel Laureates, Nobel Peace Prize, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo, Oslo, Political Reform, Standing Ovation, Tears, Thorbjoern Jagland
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