China sees that No­bel lau­re­ate gets a muted farewell

Fear­ing protests, lead­ers bury Liu’s ashes in the sea

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - NATION | WORLD - By Chris Buck­ley NEW YORK TIMES

BEI­JING — China cre­mated its only No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate, Liu Xiaobo, on Satur­day, but watch­ful of­fi­cials al­lowed only his wi­dow and a few other mourn­ers to bid farewell to the man who also was the coun­try’s most fa­mous po­lit­i­cal pris­oner.

Liu’s ashes were low­ered into the sea in a sim­ple cer­e­mony, en­sur­ing there would be no grave on land to serve as a mag­net for protests against the Com­mu­nist Party.

“As Mozart’s Re­quiem played, Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, first came for­ward to stand be­fore his body,” ac­cord­ing to an of- fi­cial ac­count of the fu­neral. “She gazed upon him for a long time and mur­mured her fi­nal farewells to her hus­band.”

Died of liver can­cer

Liu’s small, muted fu­neral in Shenyang, a city 390 miles north­east of Bei­jing, took place three days af­ter he died of liver can­cer. He was 61. The fu­neral re­spected lo­cal cus­toms and his fam­ily’s wishes, Xin­hua, the state news agency, re­ported.

The cer­e­mony, how­ever, like Liu’s fi­nal days in a hos­pi­tal, was a para­dox­i­cal dis­play of the ef­forts by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to de­fend its treat­ment of him and his wife, even as it had kept them and their fam­ily mem­bers un­der tight guard. The fam­ily mem­bers were mostly un­able to say whether they ac­cepted the gov­ern­ment’s ac­count of their treat­ment.

There was one ex­cep­tion.

“I would like to ex­press my heart­felt thanks to the party and gov­ern­ment for com­pletely fol­low­ing the fam­ily’s wishes,” said Liu Xiaoguang, Liu Xiaobo’s el­dest brother, whom of­fi­cials es­corted to a news con­fer­ence. Liu’s wi­dow, he added, was too frag­ile with grief to speak to the news me­dia.

Given med­i­cal pa­role

Many friends and sup­port­ers of the dis­si­dent were re­volted and in­censed by Liu’s cre­ma­tion and sea burial un­der such in­tim­i­dat­ing con­trols.

“In­hu­man, in­sult, shame­ful, dis­gust­ing,” Ai Wei­wei, the out­spo­ken Chi­nese artist, who lives in Ger­many, said on Twit­ter. Liu Xia has been un­der house ar­rest since 2010. A Shenyang gov­ern­ment spokesman, Zhang Qingyang, said Satur­day that Liu Xia was free, but her sup­port­ers said they feared she would re­main un­der house ar­rest and smoth­er­ing sur­veil­lance.

Liu died just over two weeks af­ter the gov­ern­ment re­vealed that his ill­ness had reached a ter­mi­nal state and that he had been given med­i­cal pa­role.

Liu Xiaobo was con­victed of in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion and im­pris­oned for 11 years in 2009, a year af­ter he was ar­rested as he pre­pared to un­veil a pe­ti­tion for demo­cratic change. In 2010, he was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize, in­fu­ri­at­ing Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party lead­ers.


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