The Nobel Committee has confirmed that nineteen countries have declined invitations to attend the Peace Price ceremony in Norway on December 10, a rise on the usual number of declines. This year, the Nobel Peace Prize is being awarded to Chinese prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo.
The 19 countries that have declined to attend according to the Committee are Afghanistan, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.
According to Sam Zarifi, Amnesty’s director for Asia-Pacific, “China has been arm-twisting behind the scenes to stop governments from attending the Nobel Prize ceremony, using a combination of political pressure and economic blackmail.”
The fact that, despite the pressure and threats, the Chinese could only cajole a small minority of countries, reflects the unacceptable nature of their demands. Governments and international institutions must continue to resist this type of bullying.
China has made some great economic advances, but the world’s governments should not be mesmerized by China’s economic growth. The Chinese people want to be part of the global discussion on human rights and we should do everything possible to include them fully.