Iceland called on to give Liu Xiaobo refuge

Two Icelandic MPs have put a proposal to the Alþingi parliament calling on the Icelandic government to offer Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo political asylum in the country.

Þráinn Bertelsson and Björn Valur Gíslason put forward their proposal to Alþingi yesterday, calling on the Icelandic government to make a strong statement by offering Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese pro-democracy campaigner who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, political asylum and a place to live in Iceland.

Supporting documents provided to the Reykjavík parliament say that in recent years the Chinese authorities and businesses have shown great interest in Iceland; most recently when the rich investor Huang Nubo wanted to purchase a large plot of land for a luxury resort (a plan which may still be alive and in the pipeline, it has since been claimed).

It would therefore be appropriate, the two MPs claim, for Iceland to repay that great interest by offering a safe haven for Liu Xiaobo, as there does not seem to be room for him in his very large homeland.

Parliamentary resolution proposals are an effective way for Icelandic MPs to gain publicity for causes they feel strongly about. There is little indication that this particular resolution will pass and be put into action; but the two MPs have already generated the desired attention and conversation about Liu Xiaobo within Iceland.

Another recent example was when the Icelandic government was called on to make cigarettes available only in pharmacies and by prescription only. There was very little hope that proposal would pass, but it succeeded in generating attention to the dangers of smoking in Iceland, and was also reported on around the world.

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