News / Asia

Chinese Dissident's 'Suspicious' Death Raises Questions

Protesters mourn the death of Chinese labor activist Li Wangyang, seen in picture at center, during a protest outside the Chinese central government's liaison office, in Hong Kong  June 7, 2012. Protesters mourn the death of Chinese labor activist Li Wangyang, seen in picture at center, during a protest outside the Chinese central government's liaison office, in Hong Kong June 7, 2012.
x
Protesters mourn the death of Chinese labor activist Li Wangyang, seen in picture at center, during a protest outside the Chinese central government's liaison office, in Hong Kong  June 7, 2012.
Protesters mourn the death of Chinese labor activist Li Wangyang, seen in picture at center, during a protest outside the Chinese central government's liaison office, in Hong Kong June 7, 2012.
VOA News
Online petitioners are calling for China to investigate what they call the "suspicious death" of a prominent dissident jailed for his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

Li Wangyang' s family found him dead on Wednesday in his hospital room in Hunan province, apparently hanged by a bandage around his neck.

Police said Li committed suicide.  But his family disputes that claim, saying Li was optimistic and had never expressed suicidal tendencies during the more than two decades he was in prison.

Human rights groups say the frail 62-year-old labor activist may not have been physically able to hang himself, as the result of health problems caused by beatings and mistreatment during his years in confinement.

A group of activists and journalists has so far collected nearly 3,000 signatures in an online petition calling for an independent autopsy and investigation into his death.

Pictures taken by the family appear to show Li's body standing at his hospital room window, with a narrow strip of cloth wrapped around his neck and his feet planted on the ground.

Li's family members say police removed the body without their permission from the hospital room, where Li was reported to have been under heavy surveillance by security guards.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy in China says it is possible that the security guards who were monitoring him -- quote --"tortured him to death and faked a suicide."

A small group of protesters gathered outside Chinese government headquarters in Hong Kong on Thursday to demand an investigation into Li's death.  Politician Alan Leong believes Li was killed in retaliation for challenging the government in a Hong Kong television interview given last week.

"Every circumstance suggested to us that this was not a suicide," Leong said. "It was really the price paid by this dissident hero after he had given a short interview on Hong Kong television to say how firm he had been in calling for the vindication of the June 4 [1989] massacre."

In the interview, Li told how he had been beaten and tortured while in prison, but said he did not regret his efforts to push for democracy in China.

"Every individual is responsible for his country's well-being. In order to speed up my country's steps in becoming a democratic society, in order to realize a multi-party system earlier in China, even if you chop my head off, I will never look back," he said.

Li was sentenced to 13 years in prison after being arrested for his labor activism and "counter-revolutionary" crimes related to the 1989 pro-democracy protests.  After being released in 2001, Li was re-arrested and sentenced to another 10 years in jail on charges of "inciting subversion."

He was freed last year and had been receiving treatment for various health problems suffered during his time in prison, including debilitating eye and ear conditions that reportedly left him without the ability to see or hear.

His death came just days after the 23rd anniversary of the violent government crackdown on the Beijing pro-democracy protesters, which left hundreds, if not thousands, dead.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid