HONG KONG: Hong Kong activists tied black ribbons to the fences of the Chinese government's office in the city Friday to mark one year since the death in custody of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo.
A veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Liu died from liver cancer while serving an 11-year sentence for “subversion” on the mainland.
Dozens of pro-democracy campaigners gathered outside China's liaison office in the semi-autonomous city, ahead of a larger public memorial event due to take place in the evening.
The commemorations come three days after Liu's widow, Liu Xia, arrived in Germany, ending eight years under de facto house arrest in Beijing.
Activists attached a picture of Liu Xiaobo to the wall outside the liaison office and tied black ribbons to the fence there.
The group also called for the release of prominent Chinese democracy activist Qin Yongmin, who was jailed for 13 years on the mainland Wednesday for “subversion of state power”.
They also called for the release of lawyers arrested in the “709 crackdowns” of 2015, which marked the largest ever clampdown on the legal profession in China.
“(The Chinese government) released Liu Xia on Tuesday, then jailed Qin Yongmin on Wednesday,” said veteran democracy activist Leung Kwok-hung, known as “Long Hair”.
“So to release Liu Xia was an act to hoodwink the public and pretend to show mercy,” he told reporters.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki called for freedom of speech and elections in China, as campaigned for by Liu Xiaobo.
He said China's release of Liu Xia was a bid to woo European allies in the face of a trade war with the United States.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam was blasted by democracy campaigners after she described the freeing of Liu Xia as an “act of humanitarianism”.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo grilled her over that statement in a heated exchange in the legislature Thursday, asking Lam whether she was a “Beijing groveller”.
Liu Xiaobo was arrested in late 2008 after co-authoring Charter 08, a widely circulated online petition that called for political reform in the Communist-ruled nation.
The bold manifesto, which was signed by more than 10,000 people after it went online, called for the protection of basic human rights and the reform of China's one-party system.
Liu Xia had faced no charges but endured heavy restrictions on her movements and was kept under constant surveillance since 2010 when her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize, infuriating Chinese authorities. — AFP