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Liu Xiaobo

Memorial event for Liu Xiaobo held on Hong Kong beach, calls for release of his widow

Memorial came a day after human rights activist revealed that Liu Xia has returned to her Beijing home

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 September, 2017, 10:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 September, 2017, 10:03pm

Dozens of Hong Kong residents took part in a memorial event on Sunday afternoon to commemorate the late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, and urge Beijing to free his widow Liu Xia.

Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges for his part in writing a pro-democracy manifesto known as “Charter 08”. He died in a Liaoning hospital on July 13.

The memorial came a day after human rights activist Frank Lu Siqing revealed that Liu Xia has returned to her Beijing home. Lu said he spoke to Liu Xia on the phone for half an hour on Saturday after calling her at her home in the Chinese capital.

Liu Xia has been under house arrest since 2010. Friends and supporters had been concerned about her whereabouts since her husband’s death from liver cancer.

The memorial event on a pebble beach in Sai Kung started with a moment of silence to remember the late dissident.

The event’s organiser Lee Cheuk-yan, secretary of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic and Democratic Movements of China, then gave a short speech, criticising Beijing for its “cruelty” in keeping Liu Xia under house arrest even after her husband’s death.

“Liu Xia has been taking medication for depression for seven years. She is innocent, but she was kept under custody because of her love for Liu Xiaobo, a foe in the eyes of Beijing,” Lee said.

“Liu Xia lacks the freedom to contact with the outside world, and to seek a cure for depression. Freedom is the best cure for her ... and we are very worried about her situation.

“What kind of regime is this, that it is so afraid of a man [like Liu Xiaobo], so much so that it is also afraid of his widow?” Lee said.

Two activists also read an excerpt of a speech written by Liu Xiaobo and a poem, called The Empty Chair, written by Liu Xia in 1999. It was followed by more than 20 Hong Kong residents calling for the widow’s freedom by forming the words “Free Liu Xia” out of pebbles and stones on the beach.

The event concluded with Lee and other activists pushing a wooden chair, which was placed on a floating platform , into the sea.

Lee said the action symbolised their respect for Liu Xiaobo and their call for his widow’s freedom, as the dissident was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize while in jail and was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo.

The event was held on an unnamed beach at the end of Hiu Po Path near the Clear Water Bay country park, southern Sai Kung.