Zhao Ziyang’s funeral to be held tomorrow

Associated Press

Beijing, January 27:

China will hold a memorial for Zhao Ziyang this weekend at its main cemetery for revolutionary heroes, a government official said today, after more than a week of wrangling over how the deposed Communist Party leader will be officially remembered.

The “body farewell ceremony” will take place at 0100 GMT on Saturday at the Babaoshan Cemetery in Beijing, said the official of the Chinese Cabinet, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Such a ceremony is a lower-status event than a state funeral. The official wouldn’t say which Chinese leaders might attend or give other details, such as what official assessment of his life might be read out at the ceremony or where Zhao will be interred. Foreign reporters are barred from the event, the official said. A relative of Zhao earlier had said such a memorial would take place on Saturday but said he had no details. “This will make us feel more at peace,” said the relative, who asked not to be identified further. “It’s good to put the dead to rest. I hope things will go smoothly.” Zhao, who died on January 17 at 85, was forced from power in 1989 after sympathising with the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protesters and spent his last 15 years under house arrest.

Meanwhile, China has detained dozens of people, some of whom have been severely beaten, for trying to mark Zhao’s death, AFP reported today. The allegations came as the government intensified security to prevent mourners attending Saturday’s funeral. One man was beaten bloody and two others, including a woman in her 70s, were punched and manhandled by police last week outside government offices which receive complaints in Beijing’s Yongdingmen district, AFP quoted witnesses as saying. They were among some 60 people who pinned white paper flowers to their clothes, a traditional Chinese symbol of mourning, said a bystander who took pictures of the beatings and posted them on overseas websites.