HONG KONG – Several hundred protesters marched in Hong Kong on Sunday to demand the release of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo before the prize ceremony in Oslo later this week.
It was one of several events in support of the Chinese dissident being held around the world.
The demonstrators gathered in front of the Hong Kong government headquarters before marching, with a heavy police presence, to the Chinese government liaison office 1 1/2 miles (2 1/2 kilometers) away.
The Nobel Committee infuriated China when it awarded the prize to Liu, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence on subversion charges after co-authoring an appeal calling for reforms to China's one-party political system. The prize ceremony is on Friday.
"Today we are demanding his release so he can go out to Norway and receive the Nobel Peace Prize," said opposition legislator Lee Cheuk-yan. He said the prize affirmed the efforts of Chinese dissidents who have been "demanding peaceful changes for democracy and human rights."
Hong Kong, a former British colony now under Chinese rule, retains Western-style civil liberties typically denied in the mainland, allowing dissent, such as Sunday's protest, against the Communist regime.
The marchers chanted "Support Charter 08" — the name of the reform appeal — and carried banners calling for the release of Liu and other "prisoners of conscience."
They also called for Liu's wife, Liu Xia, to be released from house arrest. She has been confined to her home and subject to police escort since the award was announced in October.
The marchers erected a banner about 20 feet (six meters) tall in front of the gates of the liaison office calling for Liu and other Chinese dissidents to be freed.
Demonstrators used yellow ribbons to tie dozens of postcard-sized pictures of Liu and the Peace Prize medal to netting set up in front of the gates.
"We Chinese people are very proud to get this prize. Why is the Chinese government being so autocratic that they won't let him go get the award?" demonstrator Winnie Wong said. "We feel they are being unreasonable now, they're being barbaric."
The rally ended peacefully.
Protesters also plan marches to the Chinese consulates in Los Angeles and Vancouver. Public forums in New York and Toronto will discuss Liu's detention and democracy and human rights in China, while in Boston supporters plan to hold a car rally around the city.
Nobel officials said in November that the prize ceremony would go ahead but most likely without a presentation of the award — which includes a medal, diploma and 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.4 million) — because none of Liu's close relatives would be able to leave China to collect it.