Chi­nese No­bel lau­re­ate’s ashes scat­tered at sea

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - Nation&world - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

SHENYANG MU­NIC­I­PAL IN­FOR­MA­TION OF­FICE

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.

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