Chi­nese No­bel lau­re­ate is cre­mated with fam­ily scat­ter­ing ashes at sea

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD -

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 af­ter 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 age 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 died from mul­ti­ple-or­gan fail­ure 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 mount­ing in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism for not let­ting him 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. A video about Liu’s hos­pi­tal treat­ment re­leased on the web­site of Shenyang’s ju­di­cial bureau on Fri­day seemed aimed at the same ob­jec­tive.

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.

In Hong Kong, thou­sands of Liu’s sup­port­ers and ac­tivists at­tended a can­dle­light vigil Satur­day to mourn his death.

Liu’s wife and other fam­ily mem­bers have been closely guarded by author­i­ties and re­main largely out of con­tact with the out­side world even af­ter his death. Gov­ern­ments around the world have urged China to free his wife, Liu Xia, from strict house ar­rest.

Liu rose to promi­nence dur­ing the 1989 pro-democ­racy protests cen­tered in Bei­jing’s Tianan­men Square. He was sen­tenced to 11 years in prison in 2009.

He was in prison when he was awarded the No­bel Prize in 2010.

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