Chinese Nobel laureate is cremated with family scattering ashes 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 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.