Li Wangwang (Labor Activist, Political Prisoner, Dissident) Found Dead

Lawyer Teng Biao dedicated this scroll to Li (posted on China Digital Times): “An inch of blood for an inch of freedom, thousands of miles of rivers bring thousands of miles of woes.”

Li Wangwang was found dead of hanging on Wednesday in a hospital room in Shaoyang, Hunan province. There are conflicting opinions about whether it was a suicide or involved foul play. Photos of Li (warning: graphic) have roused suspicion, since Li’s feet are pictured on the ground (see after jump).

Reports AP:

Brother-in-law Zhao Baozhu said he was suspicious about Li’s death because the activist had never expressed a desire to kill himself despite spending 20 years in prison and being very sick. He said that Li had seemed normal over dinner the previous night.

More details from Global Voices

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.

According to Shanghaiist, a petition is being circulated to have authorities investigate the incident:

The petition, initiated by blogger-activist Wen Yunchao, economist Xia Yeliang, and Tiananmen dissident Wu Renhua (now in exile in the United States), also called for authorities to allow the family and friends of Li Wangyang to take care of his last rites, and for compensation to be made if foul play on the part of police was found.

By 3am Thursay morning, some 1,100 people had already signed the petition.

Updates as they become available.

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