In the Footsteps of Gandhi, Mandela, and Havel

LONDON – Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese writer and human-rights campaigner, will receive the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10. For the first time in history, however, neither the laureate nor any member of his immediate family will be present in Oslo to accept the award.

China’s government has blocked Liu’s wife, the acclaimed photographer Liu Xia, from participating by keeping her under virtual house arrest in Beijing. It has browbeaten other countries into boycotting the award ceremony.

Not surprisingly, Vladimir Putin’s Russia was among the first to kowtow to China’s Diktat. More ominously, it looked for a while like the Norwegian Nobel committee itself might bow to Beijing, too. But in the end it decided to go ahead with the award. That is only fitting: an award for moral courage ought not to be compromised by those offering it.

When Liu learned that he had been awarded this year‘s Nobel Peace Prize, his first reaction was telling: “This prize is given to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre.”