HONG KONG (UCAN): Over 700 people gathered on July 18 to mourn the death of the Chinese Nobel laureate, Liu Xiaobo, whom they had adopted as a prophet and embraced as a martyr when he died under police surveillance after eight years of imprisonment on July 13.
A memorial Mass celebrated by Father Louis Ha Ke-loon was organised by the Justice and Peace Commission at Holy Cross parish in Sai Wan Ho on July 18 with five other priests and four permanent deacons.
Father Ha said that Liu was not a Catholic, but he should be mourned as he lived a life in line with Church ideals of mercy and sacrificed himself for peace and the well-being of his neighbour.
“Liu said he had no enemy. This is not just in his writing. He said this after he suffered much and forgave the many insults that he received,” Father Ha said.
A black and white portrait of Liu sat near the altar next to an empty chair occupied only by white and red roses to represent his participation in the pro-democratic June 4 student movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Prayer was also offered for his wife, Liu Xia, and others who stand against the repression of speech and thought in China.
Sixty-one-year-old Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion of state power on 25 December 2009 over the leading role he played in the drafting and publication of the Charter 08 manifesto.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2010 for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”
Already stricken with late-stage terminal cancer, Liu was released from prison on June 26 and spent his last days in the First Hospital of the Medical University in Shenyang.
John Lam, who joined the Mass at the parish in Sai Wan Ho, said he appreciated Liu’s non-violent efforts in trying to push China toward democracy, but added he is not positive about any prospects for change on the mainland.
“You can see after the June 4 movement there was no improvement in democracy and human rights in mainland China,” Lam commented.
He was critical of the Chinese government for not allowing Liu to choose how he wanted to be buried, as his body was quickly cremated and the ashes scattered at sea two days later.
On the same day, Liu Xiaoguang, the older brother of Liu Xiaobo, said at a press conference organised by the Chinese authorities, that the government had arranged the funeral according to the family’s wishes.
But an author and good friend of the late Liu, Yu Jie, said that Liu Xiaoguang is close to the Communist Party. He has a radically different political view from his brother and they rarely met.
Liu Xiaoguang thanked the Communist Party three times during his press conference for the humane care it had provided for his brother during his hospitalisation period.
He also explained Liu Xia’s absence in the press conference as being due to her weak condition, as she is experiencing great sorrow.
Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010 is suffering from a serious heart condition and depression. Her last appearance in public was at the scattering of Liu’s ashes, as shown in a video provided by the authorities.
International groups have called on the Chinese authorities to release her from house arrest and allow her to travel.