China: Tiananman anniversary, political prisoner suicided-Global Voices
June 10, 2012
Global Voices: June 7, 2012
Li Wangyang, a Chinese political prisoner who spent most of his life in detention, was found dead on the morning of Wednesday 6 June, 2012, after being interviewed by overseas media about the June 4 (Tiananmen Square) Massacre of 1989 and the life of political prisoners in China.
Li was released in May 5, 2011, after 22 years of imprisonment, deaf and blind because of torture he had received. He was a worker activist and participated in the 1989 student democratic movement as a leading figure for Shaoyang city autonomous worker league.
He was arrested after the Tiananmen crackdown and sent to jail for 11 years under the charge of state subversion. He started a hunger strike in prison and was tortured; the prison guards pulled out his teeth and forced him to eat. He was briefly released in 2000 but sent to prison again in May 2001 for ten years in a crackdown against the China Democracy Party, this time under the charge of incitement to subvert state power.
Li Wangyang and his sister in the hospital. Screen capture of Hong Kong Now TV news.
He was interviewed by Hong Kong cable television for a feature story on the 23rd anniversary of the June 4 Massacre. In his interview, he said he would never regret what he had done for democratic reform in China and he was encouraged by the insistence of Hong Kong people on the vindication of June 4 Massacre.
According to the Chinese Human Rights organization WeiquanWang’s report [zh], Li’s sister found his body hanging from the window frame of a hospital ward in which he was staying at 7am on June 6, as if he had committed suicide. The police then quickly took away Li’s body ignoring the relatives’ request for taking pictures of the dead body.
Li’s friend refuse to believe that Li had committed suicide:
According to Zhu Chengzhi [Li’s friend], on June 4 he had long chat with Li WangYang and Li was optimistic. Although his health condition was bad, many people had expressed their concern for Li and his health was slowly recovering. Yesterday [June 5], Li asked his sister to buy him a radio so that he could start practicing listening [with hearing aids].
Two photos [WARNING: graphic content] claimed to be taken by eyewitness of the hanging scene have been circulated widely via Facebook and Twitter. They show that the window frame from which Li was hung from was too low and that his feet were still resting on the ground.
Chinese netizens were outraged by the news, below is a selection of tweets reacting to the incident on Twitter [zh]:
@BaiqiaoCh: This is too outrageous. They don’t even try hard to fake Li Wangyang’s suicide and disregard people’s anger. I would spend my life digging out the murderer.
@tufuwugan: Tough guy Li Wangyang had survived all these 21 years but died unnaturally in the hospital under the surveillance of ten security police. In addition, he was deaf and blind and could not move around freely. His death had everything to do with those who restrict his freedom. Wangyang is a free citizen; those who had restricted his freedom are murderers. To ban Li’s family and friends from examining the body by forcefully taking the body away indicates that they are guilty.
@crushglass_X: How many people had heard of Li Wangyang when he was alive? Now he is dead and named as great fighter for democracy. This shows that people do not pay attention to those who are not famous. For this group of people, the price that they have paid is much heavier than the famous and influential ones.
@xuange12: Incidents usually happens like this: Your influence has affected my political career, then you become the villain. In my territory, I have absolute power. My guess is Li Wangyang was killed by these kind of narrow-minded people. If they had some common sense, they wouldn’t do such a thing. No one can benefit from it. Only emotion replacing rationality, equipped with unrestrained power, would lead to this.
@wenyunchao: If the authorities cannot clear the doubt that Le Wangyang was “passively suicided”, can we raise the reasonable doubt that the authorities have started murdering political dissidents in secret?