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October 20, 2019

Ousted Communist leader Zhao Ziyang is buried


October 20, 2019

BEIJING: A former Chinese Communist Party leader ousted after he opposed the use of force to quell 1989 democracy protests was buried over a decade after he died, his family said, in a service ignored by state media.

Zhao Ziyang, who is a revered figure among Chinese human rights defenders, is still a sensitive topic in the country, where commemorations of his death are held under tight surveillance or prevented altogether.

There was no mention of his burial ceremony Friday on state media, and searching for his name on social media returned no results.

It took 14 years for his family to lay Zhao to rest after his death on January 17, 2005 at the age of 85. “Today, we have found solace,” Wang Zhihua, Zhao´s son-in-law, told AFP by phone.

“After so many years and our persistence, we truly have found solace,” he said, declining to elaborate on why it took so long to arrange the burial of his father-in-law´s ashes.

The burial ceremony for Zhao and his wife, Liang Boqi, took place Friday afternoon at a Beijing cemetery on the outskirts of the city. A day after the burial service, the Changping cemetery, about 60 kilometers north west of downtown Beijing, was quiet and deserted.

An AFP reporter who visited the site saw two guards in uniform and four other people in civilian clothes watching Zhao´s tomb.

Despite the heavy security, three people were seen paying their respects with one bowing three times in front of the simple grey headstone, as per traditional Chinese custom. Flowers had also been placed next to the grave. Pictures of Zhao and Liang were placed on stands at the site during yesterday´s burial, according to photos published by the South China Morning Post and the BBC.

But these photos had been removed a day later. The guards blocked attempts by AFP journalists to take photos or videos at the site.

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