Online petitioners seek probe into China dissident death

Thu Jun 7, 2012 3:00pm IST

A protester carries a portrait of Chinese dissident Li Wangyang during a demonstration over his death, in Hong Kong June 7, 2012. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

A protester carries a portrait of Chinese dissident Li Wangyang during a demonstration over his death, in Hong Kong June 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

Related Topics

A statue of Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, is carried in a taxi to a place of worship on the first day of the ten-day-long Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

During Ganesh Chaturthi idols will be taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, and will be immersed in a river or the sea in accordance with Hindu faith.  Slideshow 

REUTERS - Online petitioners stepped up pressure on China on Thursday to investigate the death in hospital of a labour activist after spending more than 22 years in jail for his role in the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing.

Li Wangyang, who was only released from prison last year, was found dead in a hospital ward in Shaoyang city in Hunan province on Wednesday, his neck tied with a noose made from cotton bandages. Authorities said it was suicide.

He was being treated for deteriorating health, but details were not available. The group Human Rights in China said Li lost his sight and hearing as a result of torture during his years behind bars.

"We saw that his body was still hanging by the window, and his two feet were clearly still standing on the ground. But they (hospital staff) did not let us get near him ... Then they dragged his body away," Zhao Baozhu, Li's brother-in-law, was quoted as saying by Human Rights in China.

As of Thursday afternoon, 2,700 people had signed an online petition, including prominent Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, scholars, lawyers and writers who called for an authorized forensic investigation.

Li had been one of the first Chinese activists to push for independent labour unions in China, but was punished after the June 4, 1989, crackdown for his participation in the pro-democracy movement.

Li's death comes after the high-profile case of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, whose escape from village confinement and subsequent flight to freedom in the United States became a diplomatic flashpoint and raised global awareness of China's poor human rights record.

The Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy said a number of rights activists, lawyers and citizens had arrived in Shaoyang to assist the family in its bid for justice, but many were unreachable and had probably been detained by authorities.

"It's very difficult to accept the official explanation of events," said Wen Yunchao, a prominent Chinese blogger and journalist now based in Hong Kong who helped initiate the online petition.

Several dozen activists and lawmakers in Hong Kong protested outside Beijing's liaison office, carrying white flowers.

Just last week, Li had said in a television interview that he'd never regretted his fight for justice.

"The souls of the martyrs deserve to finally find some peace," said Li, referring to the Tiananmen Square protests and the subsequent crackdown in which hundreds, if not thousands, were killed.

(Reporting by James Pomfret and Stefanie McIntyre; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Pakistan Crisis


Book Talk

Book Talk

Reema Abbasi and a glimpse of Pakistan’s Hindu past  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Fighting goes on near big Ukrainian city, Poroshenko slams Russia   Full Article 

Mideast Conflict

Mideast Conflict

Israel claims West Bank land for possible settlement use, draws U.S. rebuke  Full Article 

Iraq Human Rights

Iraq Human Rights

UN debate on Iraq hears of atrocities committed by both sides  Full Article 

Syria War

Syria War

Fighting erupts between Syrian army, rebels on Golan Heights  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage