China dis­si­dent’s ashes buried at sea

Sup­port­ers de­prived of place to pay tribute to Liu Xiaobo

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

The ashes of China’s late No­bel lau­re­ate Liu Xiaobo were buried at sea yes­ter­day, de­priv­ing his sup­port­ers of a place to pay tribute to the pro-democ­racy dis­si­dent. Of­fi­cials showed a video in which his wife, Liu Xia, and rel­a­tives low­ered a white round urn into the wa­ter off north­east coast city of Dalian, two days af­ter the democ­racy ad­vo­cate died of liver can­cer aged 61 while in cus­tody.

His sup­port­ers said the author­i­ties wanted to avoid giv­ing him a pil­grim­age site where they could re­mem­ber a writer whose calls for po­lit­i­cal re­form an­gered the Com­mu­nist regime and led to his ar­rest in 2008. Of­fi­cials “fear that if some­one who is as em­blem­atic a sym­bol as Liu Xiaobo had a burial ground, it would be­come a place where his sup­port­ers would gather on his me­mo­rial day, the day he re­ceived the No­bel or any other such oc­ca­sions to ex­press their de­sire to chase af­ter free­dom,” ac­tivist and fam­ily friend Ye Du told AFP.

Liu Xiaobo’s older brother, Liu Xiaoguang, said at a news con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by the author­i­ties that the gov­ern­ment had fol­lowed the fam­ily’s wishes. He thanked the Com­mu­nist Party for its “hu­man­is­tic care” of his brother dur­ing his hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and death. He did not take any ques­tions be­fore be­ing es­corted out by two women. Zhang Qingyang, an of­fi­cial from the Shenyang city mu­nic­i­pal of­fice, said the cre­ma­tion was “in ac­cor­dance with the will of his fam­ily mem­bers and lo­cal cus­toms”.

Liu’s sup­port­ers said it was im­pos­si­ble to ver­ify if it was re­ally his wish to be buried at sea as the author­i­ties have se­verely re­stricted ac­cess to his fam­ily. They also said Liu Xiaoguang did not agree with Liu Xiaobo’s po­lit­i­cal lean­ings. “It is de­plorable how the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has forced the fam­ily to cre­mate Liu Xiaobo, bury him at sea, and then co­erced Liu’s brother to make ro­botic state­ments to the me­dia about the great care of the gov­ern­ment and su­pe­ri­or­ity of its health care sys­tem,” Jared Genser, a US lawyer who rep­re­sented Liu, told AFP.

‘Dis­gust­ing’ fu­neral’

Author­i­ties also re­leased pho­tos of a pri­vate cer­e­mony at­tended by his fam­ily, in­clud­ing his wife, whose fate wor­ries sup­port­ers hop­ing the gov­ern­ment will cede to in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to re­lease her and let her leave China. Liu Xia, a poet, stood with her brother, and two of Liu Xiaobo’s broth­ers in front of the body, which was cov­ered with white pe­tals. Zhang said “friends” also at­tended the cer­e­mony.

But Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s China re­searcher Pa­trick Poon told AFP that he did not rec­og­nize any in the row of non-fam­ily mem­bers in the of­fi­cial photo and peo­ple close to the Liu cou­ple iden­ti­fied at least one “state se­cu­rity po­lice of­fi­cer” among them. Chi­nese dis­si­dent artist Ai Wei­wei, who lives in Ber­lin, tweeted a photo of the fu­neral and called the dis­play “dis­gust­ing” and a “vi­o­la­tion” of the de­ceased.

Wife is ‘in­com­mu­ni­cado’

China’s gov­ern­ment faced a global back­lash for deny­ing Liu Xiaobo’s wish to be treated abroad, and the United States and Euro­pean Union have called on the gov­ern­ment to free Liu Xia. She has been un­der house ar­rest since 2010, but she was al­lowed to see her hus­band af­ter he was trans­ferred from prison to a hos­pi­tal in Shenyang af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with late-stage liver can­cer in late May.

Liu Xiaoguang said Liu Xia was in “weak con­di­tion” and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such “great sor­row” and that she may need hos­pi­tal treat­ment. “As far as I know, Liu Xia is in a free con­di­tion,” mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cial Zhang said. But Genser said she was still be­ing held “in­com­mu­ni­cado” and he has “seen no sign that the gov­ern­ment is go­ing to let her go”. At Liu Xiaobo’s fu­neral, Liu Xia “fixed her eyes on him a long time, mum­bling to say farewell,” Zhang said, adding that she was “in very low spir­its”. “It’s best for her not to re­ceive too much out­side in­ter­fer­ence dur­ing this pe­riod af­ter Liu Xiaobo has died,” he said.

Liu was jailed in 2008 af­ter co-writ­ing a pe­ti­tion call­ing for demo­cratic re­forms. The vet­eran of the 1989 Tianan­men Square prodemoc­racy protests was sen­tenced to 11 years in prison for “sub­ver­sion” a year later. The for­eign min­istry lashed out at the in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism on Fri­day, say­ing it lodged of­fi­cial protests with the United States, Ger­many, France and the United Na­tions hu­man rights of­fice. “The most pre­pos­ter­ous thing is that even dur­ing his cre­ma­tion and fu­neral he still was not free,” Hu Jia, a Bei­jing­based ac­tivist and fam­ily friend, told AFP. “And now it’s been passed on to his wife, who will con­tinue to lead on that same free­dom­less ex­is­tence.”— AFP

— AFP pho­tos

This handout photo pro­vided by the Shenyang Mu­nic­i­pal In­for­ma­tion Of­fice shows late No­bel lau­re­ate Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia (right in black) and fam­ily mem­bers stand­ing next to Liu Xiaobo’s body at a fu­neral par­lor in Shenyang in Liaon­ing prov­ince yes­ter­day. (In­set) Liu Xia prays as rel­a­tives bury Liu’s ashes at sea off the coast of Dalian in Liaon­ing prov­ince.

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