12/01/2010, 00.00
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Yang Jianli will withdraw the Nobel Prize on behalf of Liu Xiaobo

Yang, a dissident who fled to America after the Tiananmen crackdown, said that there would be “at least two empty seats” at the 10 December ceremony in Oslo, speaking “loudly” and reminding the “world of the situation in China”.

Washington (AsiaNews) – Yang Jianli, a Chinese dissident who fled his homeland after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, will withdraw the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Liu Xiaobo, co-author of pro-democracy Charter 08 who is currently in prison for his opposition to China’s Communist regime. Mr Yang was picked by Liu Xia, wife of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She is currently under house arrest.

The decision settles a complicated situation. Under Nobel Committee’s rules, the medal (and money) must be handed over to the recipient or a close relative. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Christmas Day 2008 for “inciting subversion”. After he was awarded the prize, his wife was placed under de facto house arrest. The dissident’s three brothers have also disappeared.

To overcome the problem, Liu Xia called on her husband’s dissident friends to organise a delegation to attend the ceremony, set for 10 December in Oslo.

Yang Jianli will head the delegation, which is getting smaller by the day as a result of repression. Mr Yang fled China in 1989 and is currently an associate professor at Harvard.

There will be “at least two empty seats” at the ceremony, but they “will speak loudly and will serve as a reminder to the whole world of the situation in China,” Yang told AsiaNews.

“China’s entire pro-democracy movement will be present” at the ceremony. “This will show that we exist and that we love our country,” he said.

In his address, Yang will call on the Chinese government to free Liu. Beijing saw the prize as an insult, “but [it] is in fact an honour even for people in the Chinese government. It is a golden opportunity for the political opening up of China. We cannot afford to miss it.”

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