Li Wangyang: I Won’t Retreat Even if I am Beheaded

After labor activist Li Wangyang was found dead in his hospital room, his family and supporters in China and around the world have called for an investigation into his death. While hospital and security officials have said Li killed himself, his family and friends say that is unlikely. From the Guardian:

“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.

[…] Hong Kong’s Information Centre for Human Rights and 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.

The online petition has now gathered thousands of signatures from people inside China and around the world. Human rights groups in Hong Kong also led a rally calling for an investigation into Li’s death.

In an interview given a few days before his death, Li talked about his determination to continue his activism. Al Jazeera reports:

[Note: Al Jazeera report contains graphic footage.]

The full interview on Hong Kong Cable TV, with English subtitles, can be seen here:

In the interview, he describes the torture in prison that reportedly resulted in his loss of hearing and eyesight, and expresses optimism that China will become democratic in the near future. Discussing his own activism, he says: “I won’t retreat, even if I am beheaded.”


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