OSLO, Norway — Pro-democracy advocates marched on the Chinese embassy in Oslo on Thursday, demanding that China release imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
Chanting "Freedom to Liu! Freedom for China!" about 100 protesters tried to deliver a petition with more than 100,000 signatures urging the dissident's release from a Chinese prison before being diverted by police away from the embassy gates.
The protest came on the eve of the Nobel prize ceremony, where the 54-year-old Liu will be represented by an empty chair. Friday will be the first time the peace prize will not be handed out since 1936, when Adolf Hitler prevented German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from accepting the award.
Liu, a literary critic and democracy activist, is serving an 11-year sentence on subversion charges brought after he co-authored a bold call for sweeping changes to Beijing's one-party communist political system. Previously almost unknown even within China, he has in recent weeks been transformed into a cause celebre among global rights activists and a source of curiosity to young, Internet-savvy Chinese.
Chinese authorities have placed Liu's supporters, including his wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest to prevent anyone from picking up his prize.
China was infuriated when the prestigious $1.4 million prize was awarded to Liu, describing it as an attack on its political and legal system. It said the country's policies will not be swayed by outside forces in a "flagrant interference in China's sovereignty."
Amnesty Norway, which organized the peaceful protest, said it was not surprised the Chinese Embassy refused to accept the petition after previous futile attempts.
Nobel committee secretary Geir Lundestad said Liu will be represented "by an empty chair ... the strongest possible argument" for awarding the prize to him.