Liu ashes buried at sea to 'erase his memory'

Top News | 17 Jul 2017

The ashes of Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo were buried at sea in a move described by a family friend as an effort to erase any memory of him.

Liu, 61, died of multiple organ failure on Thursday in a hospital in Shenyang, where he was being treated for late-stage liver cancer, having been given medical parole but not freed. He had been jailed for 11 years in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power" after helping to write a petition known as "Charter 08" calling for sweeping political reforms.

His widow, Liu Xia, has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, but had been allowed to visit him in prison about once a month. She has never been formally charged with any crime.

Speaking at a government-arranged news conference, Liu Xiaobo's eldest brother Liu Xiaoguang offered thanks several times to the Communist Party for its thoughtful care considering the "special situation" of the dissident.

"Why has Liu Xia not come here? Her health is very weak at the moment," Liu Xiaoguang said, sitting in between an English-language interpreter and a Shenyang government official. "So she can't come here. It's very regretful."

After speaking for 20 minutes, Liu was escorted out. The government then showed reporters images of the ashes being scattered from a boat.

City government information official Zhang Qingyang said Liu Xia and Liu Xiaoguang had decided upon the scattering of ashes at sea.

But close friend and fellow dissident Hu Jia said the motivation behind the sea burial was so there was nothing to remember him by on Chinese soil and so that supporters could not create a shrine to pay tribute to him.

Hu said it was well-known among Liu's friends that his elder brother did not agree with his views and that it was a cynical move for him to be presented to the media as representing Liu Xia and the family.

A source close to the dissident said Liu Xia is fighting for the possession of her husband's items in the prison. The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said the authorities refused to return Liu's items to his wife, including some manuscripts, literature reviews and poems Liu wrote during his time in prison.


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