Handke receives Nobel Literature Prize amid protests, criticism
Handke and the Nobel laureates in chemistry, medicine, physics, and economics received their prizes from the Swedish king in a lavish ceremony at Stockholm Concert Hall on Dec 10 evening. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded separately earlier on Dec. 10 in Oslo to Ethiopia’s prime minister.
James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz were presented with the physics award. In chemistry, the award was shared by John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino. William Kaelin Jr., Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza won the award for medicine.
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer won the prize in economics.
The 2018 literature award, which was also presented this year, went to Olga Tokarczuk.
The Swedish Academy’s choice of Handke has been widely criticized because of his denial of the Bosnian genocide and open support to Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 at the international tribunal in The Hague on trial for war crimes and genocide.
Handke claimed that the Muslim Bosniaks in Sarajevo had killed themselves, adding that he never believed that the Serbs had committed genocide in Srebrenica.
Protesters were seen outside the building, holding banners reading: “No Nobel for Fake News."
Several countries including Turkey boycotted the award ceremony as Turkish, Albanian, Kosovan and Croatian envoys to Sweden did not attend.
Turkish president on Dec. 10 accused the Swedish Academy of rewarding human rights violations by awarding Handke.
"It is a shame and disgrace to award a person who defends and praises a murderer who shed the blood of tens of thousands of Muslims," Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.
“Those lecturing Turkey about democracy and law rolled out the red carpet for dictators and terrorists who killed tens of thousands of people,” he added.
Kosovo's foreign minister also criticized the awarding. “Today is a shameful day... It shows that Europe has an amnesia of what happened to us in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia,” Behgjet Pacolli said in a tweet.
“The problem with Handke is his refusal to admit genocide on the Bosnian population in the 1990s,” said Adnan Mahmutović, one of the organizers of Tuesday’s demonstration in Stockholm.
“As a serious, established writer who has a lot of clout in European literature Handke has been used in the narrative of genocide denial in the Balkans,” said Mahmutovic, who fled to Sweden as a refugee from the war in Bosnia in 1993.
Swedish journo returns Nobel prize, protesting Handke
Swedish journalist Christina Doctare returned her 1988 Nobel Peace Prize to the Royal Swedish Academy on Dec. 10 in protest against the awarding Handke.
"I was proud of the Swedish Academy, but all I feel now is shame and guilt," she said.
Last week, Gun-Britt Sundstrom, now a former Nobel Literature Prize committee member, announced her resignation over the controversial decision to award Handke.
Sundstrom said in a statement published in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter that the committee defended their choice of Handke saying literature stood above politics and that she did not share that “ideology”.
International journalists and academics who gathered in Stockholm called on the Nobel Prize committee to change their minds about awarding Handke.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony held at the Oslo City Hall in Norway’s capital.
Abiy received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea, according to the Nobel Committee.
King Harald V of Norway, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were also present at the ceremony.