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Hong Kong Demands Freedom for Liu Xiaobo

Hong Kong protesters demand the release of jailed Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, 10 Dec 2010

Scores of people gathered in central Hong Kong to demand freedom for Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and other Chinese dissidents, as the award ceremony in Oslo went on without the imprisoned laureate. This is the only public event to mark the event in China.

A man carried a big picture of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in the dark.

"Free Liu Xiaobo." he demanded.

He is one of scores of Hong Kong residents who gathered Friday evening to mark the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

But with Liu Xiaobo in jail in the mainland, the vigil was also a protest to demand his freedom and those of other imprisoned dissidents.

Stephanie, a secondary school student, came to the event with six schoolmates.

"We admire his sacrificial attitude to fight for freedom and democracy in China," she said.

In December last year, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for subversion, after he co-wrote a manifesto calling for political reforms to China's one-party system and for the protection of human rights.

Chinese authorities have prevented Liu's wife and other dissidents from traveling overseas to claim the award.

Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University of Hong Kong, says in the short term the award is unlikely to change human rights in China.

"But in the long term, of course, this is seen as an important encouragement for human rights activists outside and inside China," said Cheng. "This is a symbolic gesture that the world cares about human rights in China."

Four pro-democracy lawmakers from Hong Kong attended the ceremony in Oslo and also protested for Liu's freedom in the Norwegian capital. Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Unlike people in mainland China, Hong Kong residents enjoy a high degree of freedom and civil liberties.