Reuters SHENYANG, China (Reuters) — Deceased Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo’s ashes were scattered at sea on Saturday, Liu’s brother said, 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 the northeastern city of Shenyang, where he was being treated for late-stage liver cancer, having been given medical parole but not freed.
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 dissident’s “special situation.”
After speaking for about 20 minutes, Liu was escorted out by two unidentified women, an unlit cigarette in his mouth, and did not answer questions from journalists who surrounded him.
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 that there was “nothing to remember him by on Chinese soil” and so that supporters could not create a shrine to pay tribute to him.
Government official Zhang, speaking earlier, said Liu’s widow was “currently free,” adding that as a Chinese citizen, her rights would be protected under the law. Zhang did not say where Liu Xia currently was. A government statement said Mozart’s Requiem was played during the funeral, a work of music Mozart left unfinished on his death bed.
Liu family lawyer Mo Shaoping told Reuters he did not know whether the cremation was in accordance with family wishes, however, as they had been unreachable.
“They are likely still to be under the watch and control of authorities,” Mo said. “They can’t be contacted.”
In funeral photographs handed out by the government, Liu Xia and other family members stand around the coffin containing Liu’s body, surrounded by white flowers that signify mourning in China.