The Nobel Committee announces 19 of 44 embassies will not be attending this Friday’s Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony.
China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco have decided not to be present.
Geir Lundestad, Director of the Nobel Institute, believes Chinese pressure could be to blame.
He tells NRK it is the first time so many countries have rejected the invitation to a Nobel Prize Ceremony, the previous record being 10, when the prize was awarded to former President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland in 2008.
Despite close political relations with China, India and South Korea have confirmed they will be joining the ceremony.
“The winner is chosen by the Nobel Committee and we respect its decision”, said Kim Young-sun, spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to French newspaper Le Parisien, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will not be present on Friday in Oslo. Her decision has been severely criticised by a close member of Liu Xiaobu’s family.
This caused exiled Chinese dissident Yang Jianli, who lives in the US, to say both UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Navi Pillay “should give up their functions” if they “aren’t able to protect and represent human rights”.
Ms Pillay’s spokesperson rejects Mr Jianli’s accusations, declaring the reason for the Commissioner’s absence “is because World Human Rights Day happens to be at the same time.”
Meanwhile, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry continues the Chinese tirade against both the Nobel Prize winner and the ceremony’s participants. The Guardian reports officials claim all supporters of the decision to give Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize are “clowns perpetrating a farce”.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu added Mr Xiaobo’s supporters were more interested interfering with China’s legal system and politics, opposing the country’s development.
“We will not be pressured by clowns,” she says.