August 20, 2018
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China cracks down on Liu Xiaobo memorials ahead of death anniversary

Beijing, Jul 12 (efe-epa).- As China's crackdown on public memorials for dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died last year in police custody, continued on Thursday, his widow Liu Xia, who was released from home detention recently, was in Germany, where she would be free to publicly remember her husband.

Liu Xia, was allowed to travel to Berlin on Tuesday by the Chinese government after she spent eight years under house arrest without being formally charged with any crime.

"Liu Xia's in good spirits, but physically weak," Liao Yiwu, a Chinese writer living in exile in Germany, tweeted, adding that the poet could visit the Gethsemane Church in Berlin on Friday to attend a ceremony to mark her husband's death anniversary.

In China, however, the government continued to crack down on public memorials for the Nobel Peace Laureate.

Hu Jia, an activist and a close friend of the family, who was forced to leave Beijing along with other dissidents so they could not organize a memorial for Liu, told EFE that Jul. 13 would be a "complicated" day in China.

China has consistently cracked down on any celebration of Liu's memory as he stands as a symbol of the pro-democracy struggle in the country.

The Chinese government had refused to free him even after he was diagnosed with a late-stage cancer leading to a global outcry.

Hu, who has been kept under surveillance at a hotel in the city of Chongli, said he would have liked to travel to Dalian, the northeastern city where Liu's ashes were scattered at sea.

Liu Xiaobo participated in the Tiananmen square protests of 1989, urging democratic reforms in the country and was jailed for the first time afterwards.

In 2009 he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion, after helping write a political manifesto calling for democratic reform.

In May 2017, after Liu had served most of his sentence, authorities announced that he had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.

He was moved to hospital shortly thereafter, where he died.

Amnesty International China researcher Patrick Poon said that Liu Xiaobo continued to be an inspiration for other dissidents in China, who idolize his ideas of human rights and democracy.

By Jessica Martorell

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