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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid