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China's Liu Xiaobo among the top contenders for Peace Prize

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-10-08

Jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo is one of the leading candidates to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a Burmese radio station and an Afghan rights activist are among the top contenders.

A jailed Chinese dissident is the favorite of pundits and betting agencies alike to win the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, but Afghan and Myanmar activists are also thought to be in the running.

Myanmar's broadcaster-in-exile, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Afghan womens' rights activist Sima Samar, Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina and Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who oversaw the reunification of Germany, are also thought to be in contention.

If DVB were to win, it would be the first time in the prize's 109-year history that the award went to a media organisation.

This year the Nobel Committee considered a record 237 individuals and organisations for the Peace Prize, which carries with it an award of 10 million Swedish kroner (1.49 million dollars, 1.09 million euros).

Norwegian commercial broadcaster TV2, which correctly predicted the long-shot award winner last year, US President Barack Obama, put pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo at the top of its list of likely Peace Prize winners.

In 2008, a day after Liu Xiaobo gave an interview to FRANCE 24, Chinese police came to his house and dragged him away to ask him about it. He has been arrested many times since participating in the 1989 Tiananmen protests.

Liu is in prison for helping to organise and disseminate Charter 08, a document which called for sweeping political reforms in China, including freedom of assembly, expression and religion.

The choice of Liu could anger the Chinese government, which has often warned the Norwegian Nobel Committee to steer clear of pro-democracy advocates. Chinese authorities said recently that giving the award to Liu would strain relations between China and Norway.

Committee president Thorbjoern Jagland told Norwegian public television NRK on Thursday, "We didn't set out to do the same thing as we did a year ago, but I think that it will also be a very interesting prize, one that can influence the agenda of the day."

For him, the right laureate became clear quite early in the process, he added.

The award will be handed out in Oslo December 10. Other Nobel laureates will pick up their prizes in Stockholm on the same day.

Date created : 2010-10-08


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