The family of purged Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang told media yesterday that the government finally approved the burial of his ashes, 10 years after his death.
The late liberal leader’s ashes have been kept at his former Beijing home for the past decade due to disagreement over a burial site. After Zhao’s death on January 17, 2005, the party offered to inter his ashes at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, while his family wanted to bury him privately.
Zhao was purged after opposing the violent military crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Beijing, during which hundreds or thousands of student protestors were killed, depending on who’s estimating.
The ousted leader, who spent 16 years under house arrest for “splitting the party” and “supporting unrest”, became a symbol of conscience among critics of the crackdown, and when he died, government officials didn’t want his funeral to incite widespread mourning.
Hundreds were present at the small-scale funeral ceremony held for Zhao after his supporters were barred from attending. Following the memorial, Zhao’s body was then cremated, and his ashes taken back to his courtyard home in the capital, where they have remained amid debate between government officials and Zhao’s relatives.
More than a year after the death of Zhao’s wife Liang Boqi, authorities have now agreed to have the two buried together, according to his son-in-law Wang Zhihua. Political pundit Zhang Lifan told SCMP, however, that officials are still wary about seeing his grave become a site for public mourning.
Around 100 people visited Zhao’s former home to pay their respects on the Qingming Festival this past weekend, Wang said, but several police were stationed around the premises and some petitioners were detained at the scene.
[Image via @hkdigit]