Mon, Jul 17, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Thousands march in Hong Kong to mark Liu Xiaobo’s death

SAD DAY:Hong Kongers carrying wreaths and chrysanthemums bowed three times in front of a makeshift memorial to Liu at China’s liaison office

AFP, HONG KONG

Protesters carrying candles take part in a march to mourn the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Thousands took to the streets of central Hong Kong on Saturday night holding candles as they marched in memory of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner and rights activist Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波).

Veteran activists led the solemn gathering which wove its way from the commercial heart of Hong Kong Island to China’s liaison office, with some marchers in tears.

Liu’s ashes were buried at sea on Saturday, depriving supporters of a place to pay tribute following his death on Thursday from cancer while in custody in China.

Hong Kongers have already held memorial events, but Saturday’s was by far the largest.

It came one day after four pro-democracy legislators were disqualified from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, worsening fears that freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory are under serious threat from an ever more assertive Beijing.

“Loving a country is wanting it to make progress,” 24-year-old marcher Emily Chau told reporters. “But this is how he was treated for being so loyal to the country.”

“With the disqualification of the lawmakers yesterday, it’s like this place is decaying,” she said.

The territory is ruled under the “one country, two systems” framework which grants it freedoms unseen on the mainland, guaranteed in the handover agreement when colonial power Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.

However, Beijing stands accused of increased interference in a range of areas, from politics to media and education

Marchers of all ages carried floral wreaths and white chrysanthemums, bowing three times in front of a makeshift memorial to Liu outside the liaison office, a traditional sign of respect at funerals.

Some brought their children and grandchildren with them.

Steven Wong, 45, had traveled from Singapore to attend the march, saying he had respected Liu for many years.

Wong was born and grew up in Beijing and was a high-school student there in 1989, the year of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in the city’s Tiananmen Square.

He said he remembered burned-out tanks and blood smeared on lamp posts the following day.

Shortly afterward his family moved to Singapore.

“He was a great scholar who woke up young people, especially of my generation,” Wong said of Liu.

“He made me think deeply about what we can do as a Chinese [person] and what we can teach our students,” Wong said.

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