The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today...to an empty chair. The chairman of the Nobel committee placed the prize and citation on the chair because it was supposed to be given to Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese writer and pro-democracy activist, but he is currently in prison in solitary confinement for his activities. His wife and his relatives were also prevented from attending. The last time the prize was awarded in this way was in 1936, when the German writer Carl von Ossietzky was barred by the Nazi authorities. The award was also dedicated to the "Lost souls of 4 June" - a direct reference to the Chinese crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989. This has obviously not impressed China, who boycotted the event and encouraged 18 others to do the same. The attention that has been brought to Mr Liu's plight and China's ongoing dubious record regarding political freedoms shows the value that the Peace Prize continues to have. President Obama, who received the award last year, agreed, saying that Mr Liu "was far more deserving of the award than I was." and calling for his immediate release.
PS: Here are profiles of Mr Liu from the BBC and here is a petition you can download from Amnesty International calling for his release.