Funeral ceremony took place for Liu Xiaobo, who died on Thursday of liver cancer at 61. His wife, Liu Xia on the right (wearing sunglasses). -AP
The ashes of China's late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo were buried at sea on Saturday, depriving his supporters of a place to pay tribute to the pro-democracy dissident.
Officials showed a video in which his wife, Liu Xia, and relatives lowered a white round urn into the water off the northeastern coastal city of Dalian, two days after the democracy advocate died of liver cancer aged 61 while in custody. His supporters said the authorities wanted to avoid giving him a pilgrimage site where they could remember a writer whose calls for political reform angered the Communist regime and led to his arrest in 2008.
Officials "fear that if someone who is as emblematic a symbol as Liu Xiaobo had a burial ground, it would become a place where his supporters would gather on his memorial day, the day he received the Nobel or any other such occasions to express their desire to chase after freedom," activist and family friend Ye Du told AFP.
Liu Xiaobo's older brother, Liu Xiaoguang, said at a news conference organized by the authorities that the government had followed the family's wishes. He thanked the Communist Party for its "humanistic care" of his brother during his hospitalization and death. He did not take any questions before being escorted out by two women.
Zhang Qingyang, an official from the Shenyang city municipal office, said the cremation was "in accordance with the will of his family members and local customs". Liu's supporters said it was impossible to verify if it was really his wish to be buried at sea as the authorities have severely restricted access to his family. They also said Liu Xiaoguang did not agree with Liu Xiaobo's political leanings.
"It is deplorable how the Chinese government has forced the family to cremate Liu Xiaobo, bury him at sea, and then coerced Liu's brother to make robotic statements to the media about the great care of the government and superiority of its health care system," Jared Genser, a US lawyer who represented Liu, told AFP. Authorities also released photos of a private ceremony attended by his family, including his wife.
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