TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Thousands of people took to the street on Saturday to show their support as they marched with candles to honor pro-democracy Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Liu died on Thursday from cancer while still in China's custody. His ashes were buried at sea on Saturday, depriving supporters of a place to pay tribute following his death.
Activists led the gathering that started from the commercial heart of Hong Kong Island to China's liaison office.
People in Hong Kong held other memorial events but the candle march was the largest.
Marchers carried with them white chrysanthemums and floral wreaths and bowed three times in front of a makeshift memorial to Liu outside the liaison office before placing the flowers on it, a traditional sign of respect in funerals in Chinese culture.
The vigil is the only large scale commemoration for Liu on Chinese soil and several newspapers in the city splashed Liu's portrait on their front pages.
"The Beijing regime is so callous, they don’t care what anyone thinks and their treatment of Liu Xiaobo proves that," said Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy lawmaker to the Guardian. "We need to show Beijing and the rest of the world that Hong Kong people will not be silent in the face of injustice."
"Beijing has this parental mentality, demanding obedience from Liu Xia: they tell her not to speak, not to go abroad," Mo added. "But she must be set free."
"The way the Chinese government treated him and the pain it inflicted on him and his family just for writing words and talking about democracy, all this proves he deserved the Nobel Prize," said Lui, 27, a graduate student who was one of the marchers, as reported by the Guardian. "His words, his actions are all about peace, but the Chinese government only knows how to be violent.”
At one point the marchers were soaked by heavy rain. Some continued walking, while others took shelter under a shed.
But Lui, a devout Christian, had a different view of Hong Kong's unpredictable weather: "You see, God is crying for Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia."