Protesters gathered in Oslo, Norway on the eve of the annual Peace Prize ceremony in condemnation of the Nobel Committee and this year's recipient, the European Union.
Demonstrators lambasted the committee's decision citing the EU’s arms sales to conflict areas, the lack of help for refugees and social upheaval caused by the handling of the financial crisis, Euronews reports.
“They are selling weapons and they are undemocratic and they are mistreating people in Greece. It’s just a disaster,” said protester Odd Brunland.
“I really disagree with how they are handling the financial crisis. It makes me very, very angry that they are getting the peace prize. Now it’s like a hit in the face of everybody who is suffering in Greece,” added Haldis Grettvett, one of about a thousand protestors who participated in a torch-lit march through the streets of the Norwegian capital Sunday evening.
The march culminated outside the Grand Hotel, where winners of the Nobel Peace Prize stay, where protestors chanted “the E.U. is not a worthy winner.”
Three of the EU’s largest figures—Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz—accepted the award on behalf of the bloc at a ceremony on Monday.
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Reporting from Oslo, Democracy Now! spoke with a number of critics who argue that "European arms sales and use of military force — including support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — are in direct violation of Alfred Nobel’s will."
"When we heard that the Nobel Prize for peace will be given to the European Union, we first thought it was a joke," said Dimitris Kodelas member of Greek leftist party Syriza, "especially because this comes in days when mainly the peoples of South Europe are living with the results of a financial war, and their countries are turning to colonies of debt with deprived citizens and looted national wealth."
Fredrik Heffermehl, author of "The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted," critiqued the committee's decision in an interview with Democracy Now!:
Since [the committee is] very devoted to the NATO alliance and to the United States foreign policy, the prize has come to serve the exact opposite of what it was intended to serve.
To support the work for breaking the military tradition and creating global peace or demilitarized global peace order; it’s a very radical idea.