Liu cremated: China says wife 'free so far'

Elias Hubbard
July 16, 2017

The body of China's late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo was cremated Saturday after a private ceremony attended by his family, as Beijing faces global pressure to let the dissident's wife leave the country.

"The cremation is as per local customs respecting relatives' wishes, " Zhang Qingyang, spokesperson for Shenyang's information office, said.

Liu Xia has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and was allowed to visit him in prison about once a month.

Liu Xiaobo, 61, died from liver cancer on Thursday following severe multiple organ failure.

Family members and friends of Liu bade farewell to him at a private ceremony in China's Shenyang city, an official told reporters in the city.

Liu's ashes were lowered into the sea ensuring that there would be no grave on land to serve as a magnet for protests against the Communist Party of China, especially on the traditional tomb-sweeping day every April.

"It's best for her not to receive too much outside interference during this period", he said.

Shanghai-based writer Wen Kejian, another friend of the Liu family, said his supporters would "pay very close attention to Liu Xia's freedom".

"But she just lost her spouse".

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.

At Liu Xiaobo's funeral, Liu Xia "fixed her eyes on him a long time, mumbling to say farewell", Zhang said, adding that she was "in very low spirits".

Zhang did not say where Liu Xia now was.

Liu family lawyer Mo Shaoping said he did not know whether the cremation was in accordance with family wishes, however, as they had been unreachable.

Mo Zhixu, another friend and activist, said: "The regime must be insane". "They can't be contacted".

Liu Xia, a poet, stood with her brother, and two of Liu Xiaobo's brothers in front of the body, which was covered with white petals.

Liu Xiaoguang said Liu Xia was in "weak condition" and experiencing such "great sorrow" and that she may need hospital treatment.

Rights groups and Western governments have mourned Liu Xiaobo's death and urged authorities to grant freedom of movement to his wife and the rest of his family.

China, however, said the case remained an internal matter.

China's government faced a global backlash for denying the democracy advocate's wish to be treated overseas.

Efforts are being made to secure permission from Chinese authorities for Liu Xia and her brother Liu Hui to leave, a Western diplomat said on Friday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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