July 20, 2017
Protestors flock to shorelines around the world to honor Liu Xiaobo
by Taylor Sperry
We’ve been reporting on the dissident Chinese writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo at MobyLives since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. In 2008, Liu was sentenced to eleven years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” and, despite efforts across the globe to secure his release, he died of cancer in custody earlier this month.
In an apparent attempt “to deny supporters a place of pilgrimage,” Liu was cremated, his ashes scattered at sea — a burial officials say the family requested, though few are convinced.
Since then, Tom Phillips and Benjamin Haas report for the Guardian, “Beijing has inadvertently transformed two thirds of the world’s surface into a vast aquatic protest zone.” In New York, Boston, Melbourne, London, and Hong Kong, apparently spontaneous, uncoordinated “watery protests” have already taken place, with more expected along other shorelines in the weeks to come.
“The Communist Party thinks because there is no tombstone we can not commemorate Liu Xiaobo,” said Liu’s friend and fellow activist Hu Jia. “But in fact the whole sea has become a place where we can be close to him.”
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.