10/17/2006, 00.00
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Lin Mu dies in Xian: from Communist leader to democracy activist

Lin, former aide and friend of reformist Hu Yaobang, died suddenly at the age of 79. Expelled from the Communist Party three times, he called for political reform and for the rehabilitation of the Tiananmen Square movement.

Xian (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Lin Mu, a democracy activist renowned throughout China, died in his home in Xian in Shaanxi province on 15 October at the age of 79.

Lin, aide and friend of the ex-secretary of the Communist Party, Hu Yaobang, was expelled three times by government leaders: twice during the Cultural Revolution and again after the crackdown on anti-corruption and pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

His son, Lin Fang, said his death "came without warning because he had been quite healthy. Anyhow he died in his sleep, in peace."

Born in Zhejiang, Lin joined the party in 1946 while studying at the department of electronic machinery at Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xian. In 1965, he became a deputy secretary of the Shaanxi provincial party committee. His boss was the reformist Hu Yaobang.

Lin became one of his top advisers, joining in the launch of innovative reforms in the province, which were destined to be cut short by central economic policies. The new management granted more market freedom on the market and to local farmers. However, the reform ended abruptly just months later with Hu's departure for Beijing.

The party purged dozens of cadres who were involved in the reform, including Lin, who was arrested, expelled from the CCP, readmitted and thrown out again. He would eight years in labour camps.

He was rehabilitated again in 1978 and returned to occupy posts in the Communist leadership ranks. His open support for the student-led movement in 1989, which was triggered by Hu's death, led to his loss of party membership for the third time.

After the latest expulsion, Lin became a leading pro-democracy activist, openly criticizing the Chinese leadership and the repressive policies of the CCP. Remarkably, Lin made public demands for reform and for a reassessment of the 1989 movement, despite repeated warnings from the authorities.

In one of his last articles, published in Hong Kong, Lin criticized the "harmonious society of Hu Jintao", saying Hu lacked the "willingness to reopen stalled political reform."

A private funeral service will be held on 19 October.

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