Beijing (AsiaNews) - A man from Fuzhou died last week after unidentified thugs severely beat him and forcibly injected him with toxic chemicals. Mao Qiping, 58, had spent two years petitioning the central government seeking redress after his ancestral home was demolished in Fuzhou (Fujian), friends and supporters said. Mao had also led others in a fight against illegal land seizures by local Communist officials.
Under Chinese law, any citizen has the right to petition the central government if he or she feels their rights have been violated by local government. Despite its widespread use across the country, provincial officials are increasingly opposed to it because they might lose their job (and liberty) if their bosses found out about their crimes.
On 12 June, several unidentified men holding metal rods followed Mao as he went to work, said Li Kuichun, a friend of the dead man. When they reached him, they beat him until he became semiconscious. They then held down as a toluene solution was injected into his legs.
After that, Mao was dumped in a ditch where he was found by farmers the next day. Although he was taken to hospital, he died two days later. "They wanted to make it look like he fell," Li said.
Police in Fuzhou, Li explained, told Mao's relatives that he fell to his death and threatened to prosecute anyone who disputed their account.
When Li saw Mao at the hospital, he was semi-conscious, but insisted on telling him the truth.
After Mao's death, villagers took his body to a government office for further investigation into the cause of death, but more than 100 plain-clothes police officers and security guards stormed the office and took away the body.
Mao's death came a few days after that of Li Wangyang, a leading figure in the Tiananmen Square protests. The latter was found dead on 5 June, hanged in his hospital room, which police had placed under guard.
In that case, police ruled that it was suicide and proceeded immediately to cremate the body to destroy the evidence.