Photo: China Democracy Party
Li Wangyang, a 62-year-old former factory worker who was jailed for more than two decades for his role supporting the Tiananmen Square protests, has reportedly been found dead just a few days after the 23rd anniversary of the protests.Details on Li’s death are somewhat sketchy at the moment, but it appears he has hanged himself while on medical leave at a hospital at Shaoyang, Hunan. The LA Times describes him as “hanging by a bed sheet from security bars over the window”. His family were reportedly rushed to the hospital to find him still hanging.
Li’s family do not seem satisfied by the report of a suicide.
“He was always very strong, there was no sign at all that he was thinking of killing himself,” his brother-in-law Zhao Baozhu told the AP. “Even though he had so many illnesses and spent more than 20 years in jail, he never talked about suicide. So I don’t believe it.”
Zhao refused to elaborate in a separate interview with AFP, reportedly for fears that his phone was tapped.
Such speculation has, typically for China, resulted in a growing wave of scepticism at the official version of results.
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement, “We cannot rule out that security guards monitoring him tortured him to death and faked a suicide.”
The LA Times also notes that Li was mostly blind and deaf, and would have had trouble tying the knots used to secure the bedsheet. The paper also reports that a group of friends, calling themselves the Committee to Investigate Li Wangyang’s Death, are pledging to investigate the death.
State censorship seems to be kicking in. We just tried to search for Li’s name on Weibo and got the (now familiar) censorship message:
“According to relevant laws and regulations and policies, Li Wangyang search results were not show”
Outside of Beijing censors’ control, overseas news site Boxun.com has pictures of the position Li was found in, which they describe as “bizarre” (WARNING: the photos may be upsetting).
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