Human rights in China

Franco-Chinese couple’s fate still unknown a week after Liu Xiaobo tribute unveiled

Friends and reporters unable to contact French residents Marine Brossard and Hu Jiamin after a mural in Shenzhen honouring the late dissident was covered up

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2017, 2:21pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 December, 2017, 10:25pm

A French citizen and her husband have been incommunicado for a week after the couple travelled to southern China to paint a tribute to the late democracy activist and dissident Liu Xiaobo, friends and witnesses said on Friday.

Marine Brossard and Hu Jiamin painted a mural at the entrance of a public exhibition in Shenzhen on December 15, but city authorities covered the wall with a banner the same evening, as the South China Morning Post reported on Saturday. Tributes to Liu are censored in China.

Brossard is a French national, but Hu’s nationality is unclear, a friend who has known them for over five years said.

AFP tried to call Hu several times this week, but an automated message said his phone was switched off.

Artist behind daring tribute to late dissident Liu Xiaobo out of contact in China

The couple had travelled from their home in the French city of Lyon to participate in the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism Architecture.

“We have been trying to reach them but we haven’t been able to confirm anything,” said the friend of the couple, who asked for anonymity due to safety concerns.

Their painting depicted an empty blue chair inside a room with red bars, an apparent reference to Liu, who was in prison when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

An empty chair stood symbolically in his place at the ceremony, which infuriated the Communist Party.

Liu died from liver cancer in July, making China the first country since Nazi Germany to allow a Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in state custody.

Censorship, muddled thinking undermine Shenzhen-Hong Kong expo on urban design and architecture

Chinese poet Ye Du, who went to Shenzhen to see the exhibition, said he spoke briefly with Hu after seeing the tribute.

“I was shocked to see it. I never imagined that I would see a public commemoration of Liu in China,” Ye told AFP.

The Shenzhen Public Security Bureau said it did not have information on the couple.

The French embassy in Beijing declined to make a statement.