2010 Liu Xiaobo - Nobel Peace Center

Nobel Peace Center

Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB Scanpix

2010 Liu Xiaobo

04 June 2014–17 Sept 2014

Wednesday, 4 June is the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. This week the Nobel Peace Center opens an exhibition on the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his long-standing, non-violent advocacy of human rights in China.

The exhibition, entitled 2010 Liu Xiaobo, tells the story of the only Nobel Peace Prize laureate currently being held in detention. The exhibition features texts in Chinese, English and Norwegian.

Liu Xiaobo was unable to come to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. At the award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Liu Xiaobo’s chair remained symbolically empty. After the ceremony the Chinese authorities censored the phrase ‘empty chair’ on the Chinese internet. The empty chair is a central part of the exhibition. Visitors can take a photograph of themselves with the empty chair, and show their support for the campaign to free Liu Xiaobo by uploading it to Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #FreeLiu.

“The author and dissident Liu Xiaobo is one of today’s foremost symbols of the struggle for human rights and freedom of expression,” says Liv Astrid Sverdrup, exhibition manager at the Nobel Peace Center.

For decades Liu Xiaobo has been one of China’s leading advocates for democracy, human rights and freedom of expression. He took part in the pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, and he was a leading author of the Charter 08 manifesto for human rights in China. In 2009 he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years’ loss of political privileges for ‘incitement to subvert state power’.

Liu Xiaobo is one of many Peace Prize laureates who have been persecuted and imprisoned for their convictions. The exhibition also enables visitors to learn more about other laureates whose work has led to their incarceration. These include Carl von Ossietzky, Martin Luther King Jr, Andrej Sakharov, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Liu Xiaobo has said that the internet is God’s gift to China. In fact, one of the offences of which he was convicted was the online dissemination of his opinions. As a result, he is also one of the stories featured in the Nobel Peace Center’s major summer exhibition, entitled Be Democracy, which opened in May.

Watch the film based on the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition “I have no enemies”:

The exhibition on Liu Xiaobo is the second of a series of smaller exhibitions at the Nobel Peace Center to feature selected Nobel Peace Prize laureates. These exhibitions are sometimes staged as a comment to a larger exhibition, and sometimes in response to an important recent event or anniversary. The first such exhibition was 1971 Willy Brandt.

The next in the series will be 1964 Martin Luther King Jr, which will open at the end of September.