Chinese Nobel laureate’s ashes scattered at sea
SHENYANG, China— Family members of Liu Xiaobo scattered the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s ashes into the sea on Saturday in funeral proceedings closely orchestrated by the Chinese government following his death from cancer while in custody.
Liu’s supporters said the move was intended by the authoritarian government to permanently erase any traces of China’s best- known political prisoner, who died Thursday at the age of 61.
The sea burial took place Saturday at noon, just hours after his cremation, a spokesman for the northeastern city of Shenyang, where Liu died, told reporters.
Liu’s elder brother, also addressing reporters at the briefing, thanked the ruling Communist Party and the government for its handling of his brother’s funeral. The brother, Liu Xiaoguang, is regarded by Liu’s friends as having long been unsupportive of Liu’s political advocacy.
Liu died after a battle with liver cancer while serving an 11- year sentence for incitement to subvert state power. In the run- up to his death, Beijing faced international criticism for not letting him and his wife travel for treatment abroad as he had wished.
The government held two briefings Saturday and provided photos of the funeral and the sea burial, the latest moves in a propaganda campaign seemingly aimed at countering criticism that Beijing has failed to handle Liu’s deterioration and dying wishes in a humanitarian way.
Activists and friends of the family said the sea burial appeared to be Beijing’s way of removing every last physical trace of Liu. It also removes the need for a land- based grave at which his supporters would have been able to pay their respects.
“The government’s thinking is that in this way, they can destroy the body and remove all traces of him,” dissident and family friend Hu Jia said by phone.
“The authorities are very worried that a grave would be the focal point of the public’s actions to memorialize him, which could easily turn into protests,” Hu said.
Zeng Jinyan, an activist filmmaker and friend of Liu, said the sea burial would not deter supporters from commemorating his life.
“Now, Liu Xiaobo is everywhere,” Zeng said. “Twothirds of the earth’s surface is covered by the sea, and I can foresee that in the future, activists and ordinary people will go to the sea and memorialize Liu Xiaobo.”
In Hong Kong, thousands of Liu’s supporters and activists attended a candlelight vigil Saturday to mourn his death.
Liu Xia, wife of dissident Liu Xiaobo, watches as his ashes are buried at sea in northeastern China. Liu died after a battle with cancer; Chinawas criticized for not letting him travel abroad.