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Crowds mourn activist's death

Gathering adds to pressure on Beijing following Li Wangyang's 'suicide'

  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
  • June 14, 2012
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More than 1,500 people gathered in central Hong Kong yesterday evening to mourn what many call the "suspicious" death of a disabled mainland Chinese pro-democracy activist  just three days after 25,000 protesters took to the streets calling for Beijing to investigate.

Yesterday’s gathering took place seven days after relatives found deaf and blind Li Wangyang with a cloth tied around his neck and attached to a window, his feet still on the ground, in his hospital room in Shaoyang in central Hunan province.

Chinese officials say the 61-year-old, who spent 21 years in jail for his part in the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, took his own life. But activists say no suicide note was found, while relatives have complained that they were pressured to cremate the body.

On Tuesday, Dr York Chow, the outgoing food and health secretary, became the first Hong Kong official to question Beijing’s version of events.

"It would be hard for a severely disabled person to commit suicide, even if he wanted to," Chow said in a television interview.

Yesterday, Donald Tsang, the outgoing chief executive of Hong Kong, said in a press conference that he believed “the central government and the relevant mainland authorities can definitely listen to the views of the Hong Kong public."

Critics have argued that Tsang, who is considered pro-Beijing, was trying to appease Hong Kong’s increasingly vocal public ahead of an official visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao on July 1 when he will swear in the new chief executive, Leung Chun-ying. The day also marks the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to the mainland.

Activists have started a signature campaign calling on the Chinese government to conduct an investigation into Li’s death, which also calls for action by the United Nations and Amnesty International (AI).

"The Chinese authorities must thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding Li Wangyang's death and take seriously the claims made by his family and friends that this was not suicide," Donna Guest, Asia Pacific deputy director at AI, said on June 7, the day after Li’s body was found.

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