Friday, 10 December 2010

News Report: 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Honoured In Absentia

Liu Xiaobo With Wife
Clapping solemnly, dignitaries in Norway celebrated this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, with an empty chair.

Friday's ceremony was the first time in 74 years the award was not handed over. Liu wasn't able to collect the prestigious $1.4 million award in Oslo on Friday because he is being held in a Chinese prison.

China was infuriated when the 54-year-old literary critic won. He is serving an 11-year prison sentence on subversion charges for urging sweeping changes to Beijing's one-party communist political system.

In Beijing, both CNN and BBC TV went black at 8 p.m. local time, exactly when the Oslo ceremony was taking place. Security outside Liu's apartment in Beijing was heavy and several dozen journalists were herded away by uniformed police to a cordoned-off area. 

The last time a Nobel Peace Prize was not handed out was in 1936, when Adolf Hitler prevented German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from accepting his award.

China has also pressured foreign diplomats to stay away from the Nobel ceremony. China and 17 other countries have declined to attend, including Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. At least 46 of the 65 countries with embassies in Oslo accepted invitations. Serbia, which previously said it would stay away, announced Thursday it would now attend.

Some 1,000 guests, including ambassadors, royalty and other VIPs took their seats in Oslo's modernist City Hall for the two-hour ceremony, among them U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Ambassador Barry White. About 100 Chinese dissidents in exile and some activists from Hong Kong were also attending.

Chinese dissident Wan Yanhai, the only one on a list of 140 activists in China invited by Liu's wife to attend the ceremony, said the jubilation felt by many at Liu's honor will be tinged with sadness.

"I believe many people will cry, because everything he has done did not do any harm to the country and the people in the world. He just fulfilled his responsibility," Wan told The Associated Press. "But he suffered a lot of pain for his speeches, journals and advocacy of rights."

Wan managed to travel to Oslo because he fled to the United States in May after Chinese authorities increased their harassment of his AIDS advocacy group.

Before the ceremony, 2,000 schoolchildren gathered outside city hall in a display of appreciation for Liu. Some handed letters to Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland, hoping he could convey their greetings to the jailed laureate.

Jagland said awarding the prize to Liu was not "a prize against China," and he urged Beijing that as a world power it "should become used to being debated and criticized."

Outside Parliament, the Norwegian-Chinese Association held a pro-China rally with a handful of people proclaiming the committee had made a mistake in awarding the prize to Liu.

The Nobel Peace prize can be collected only by the laureate or close family members. Cold War dissidents Andrei Sakharov of the Soviet Union and Lech Walesa of Poland were able to have their wives collect the prizes for them. Myanmar democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi's award was accepted by her 18-year-old son in 1991.

The ceremony in Oslo will be followed by a torchlight parade through Oslo's streets and a banquet hosted by Norwegian King Harald and Queen Sonja.

In the Swedish capital of Stockholm, the other Nobel laureates were to be honored in a separate ceremony Friday. Winners in literature, physics, chemistry and economics will received their awards from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, followed by another lavish dinner.

In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman noted that Friday is International Human Rights Day and said the German government will continue to press for Liu's release.

"It is fitting that, on just this day, in Liu Xiaobo a man is being honored with the Nobel Peace Prize who has worked courageously for political freedom and human rights," Christoph Steegmans said. Germany "regrets that Liu Xiaobo was not allowed to take part personally in the award ceremony."

On Thursday, about 100 protesters chanting "Freedom to Liu! Freedom for China!" marched to the Chinese Embassy in Oslo but were thwarted by police from delivering a petition with more than 100,000 signatures urging Liu's release from prison.

From: Associated Press

Report: Nigeria’s Human Rights Record Worsening

Jonathan: Nigerian President
The human rights situation In Nigeria is worsening. According a report by Maplecroft’s Human Rights Risk Atlas 2011 that calculates and maps the risk of complicity in human rights abuses Maplecroft, which chidi opara reports obtained. Other countries with same records are; Pakistan, China, Russia, Colombia, Bangladesh, India, Philippines and Mexico.

The Maplecroft reports says that there are now 92 countries in the ‘extreme’ and ‘high risk’ categories, There were 83 countries in these categories last year, an increase of nearly 10%. The report said further that it is the emerging economies that cause the most concern, it said multinational companies and investors have considerable interests in these economies, but that strong economic growth is not translated into improvement of human rights. The report hints that this poses legal, reputation, operational and strategic challenges for business.

The Human Rights Risk Atlas 2011 was released today, December 10th, 2010 for the International Human Rights Day. The report evaluated 196 countries on their performance in 30 human rights categories; human security, labour standards and protections, civil and political rights and access to remedy.

Views full report here.

News Report: Nigerian President, Rivers State Governor To Become Ikwerre Consensus Candidates

Governor Amaechi
The governor of Rivers State of Nigeria, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has unveiled another move to outwit his opponents in the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in the battle to clinch the gubernatorial candidature of the party in the state in the 2011 elections.

The latest in Amaechi's moves is the reception to be accorded the governor by Ogbakor Ikwerre on Saturday, December 11th, 2010 at the College of Arts and Science compound in the Rumuola area of Port Harcourt.

Ogbakor Ikwerre, led by Samson Agbaru is the umbrella organization of the Ikwerres. Amaechi is from Ubima, a farming community in Ikwerre Local Government Area.

The reception, chidi opara reports contacts in the organizing committee confirmed, would be attended by the Nigerian Vice-president, Mr. Namadi Sambo, who would be representing the Nigerian President.

Contacts close to Ogbakor Ikwerre chieftains also confirmed to chidi opara reports that the reception is a veiled endorsement of governor Amaechi and the Jonathan-Sambo tickets as Ikwerre consensus candidates in the 2011 elections. We were also reliably informed that a former Ogbakor Ikwerre leader who is presently the Chairman of  a strategic Board in the Amaechi administration brokered the reception at the request of the governor.

Although some Ikwerres in PDP are showing interests in Amaechi's job, the Rivers state governor's major opposition in 2011 would however come from the camp of his cousin, Mr. Celestine Omehia, who is oiling his campaign machinery in readiness for the 2011 governorship election. Omehia was removed as governor after five months in the saddle following a Supreme Court ruling in October, 2007. The case was instituted by Amaechi. Omehia is also a member of PDP.

The thinking in the Amaechi camp, according to insiders, is that a reception by Ogbakor Ikwerre at this time, would settle the matter of who is the consensus candidate of the Ikwerres in the 2011 elections in Rivers state.