Artists and dissidents to remember Liu Xiaobo in Berlin a year after his death

The public ceremony is set for 13 July. A Nobel and a Pulitzer prize laureate will also be present.  Liu’s friend Liao Yiwu will perform a new piece. A choir will ask for the release of Liu Xia.

Berlin (AsiaNews) – German pastor Rev Roland Kühne is organising a memorial on 13 July dedicated to Liu Xiaobo a year after his death at the Gethsemanekirche (Gethsemane Church) in Berlin. The ceremony will also include his wife, Liu Xia.

Liu Xiaobo was allowed to die of liver cancer on 13 July 2017 whilst in prison. In 2009, he had been sentenced to 11 years in prison for his role in drafting the pro-democracy Charter 08 manifesto.

His wife, Liu Xia, a 57-year-old poet, has been under house arrest since 2010, although no formal charges have been laid against her. Activists have long called for her release, the more so since she is under serious psychological distress.

The organiser of the memorial, Rev Kühne, has long been active in human rights, including in favour of the late Nobel Prize winner.

Since 2010, the clergyman has led hundreds of students to protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Germany.

The place chosen for the service is not accidental. The Gethsemane Church was a place of refuge for dissidents at the time of East Germany. More than a thousand people found shelter among its walls.

Artists and activists will take part in the ceremony, including some from the old East Germany. Herta Müller, one of Germany’s most famous poets and herself a Nobel Laureate in literature, will read in German poems composed by Liu Xia, which Müller translated from English.

American author and Pulitzer Prize winner Ian Johnson, who is a correspondent for The New York Times in Beijing, will give a speech.

Exile Chinese author and musician Liao Yiwu, an old friend to Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia and winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, will join a young German violinist, Fabian Lukas Voigtschild, to perform the new work ‘Liu Xiaobo’s Last Moments’.

The inspiration for the work came from words Liu Xia spoke in a telephone conversation on 31 August 2017 with Liao: “He [Liu Xiaobo] told me I had to get out of the country.… In the end he stopped speaking — he just kicked his leg to show what he meant. His legs kept moving, almost like he was walking, non-stop, for over an hour”.

Organisers also plan a special moment for Liu’s widow. A telephone conversation registered on 30 April between her and her friend Liao, in which she cried for three minutes in despair, will be played.

Afterwards, the singer Isabell will sing "Donna, Donna" together with a choir of hundreds of students from the Rhein-Maas Berufskolleg (College), which will slowly lead into a joint chorus by the entire body of memorial participants singing together calling for Liu Xia’s freedom.