China braces for Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring Liu Xiaobo

By Keith B. Richburg|Washington Post

Liu Xiaobo, one of the authors of Charter 08, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Christmas day last year.

BEIJING – China braced Friday for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned human rights advocate Liu Xiaobo, blocking broadcasts of the ceremony and tightening its grip on activists to prevent them from celebrating the honor in any way.

The Web sites of the BBC, CNN, Britain’s Channel 4 and Norwegian television NRK were blocked starting Thursday, preventing live streaming. On Friday, CNN and BBC television broadcasts were on the air for people with satellite dishes, but with intermittent blackouts during some segments.

Various news Web sites remained inaccessible, with a message saying the sites are “temporarily unavailable.”

Some Beijing cafe and restaurant owners have been warned by police not to allow any Nobel celebrations or demonstrations at their establishments. One cafe owner, who asked not to be quoted by name, was called to the local police station in the Gulou, or Drum Tower, area and warned that “overseas reactionary forces” might try to “instigate” some actions on Friday night.

China has prohibited Liu and his family members from leaving China to attend Friday’s ceremony in Oslo. Nobel committee organizers said the jailed intellectual would be represented by an empty chair – the first time the award will not be presented to a laureate in person since 1936, when Carl von Ossietzky, a German pacifist jailed by the Nazi regime, was prevented from attending the ceremony.

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