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    » 06/11/2012, 00.00

    HONG KONG - CHINA

    More than 25 thousand in Hong Kong march to demand an investigation into the death of Li Wangyang

    Eugenia Zhang

    Even a pro-Beijing deputy demands inquiry into death. According to the Chinese authorities, the Tiananmen dissident, now blind and deaf from torture in prison, "committed suicide". Two days ago he was cremated and buried. One demonstrator: Attempts to stiffle the democratic movement just like 23 years ago in Tiananmen.

    Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong marched to the China's central government office yesterday (June 10) to demand an investigation into the suspicious death of a pro-democracy dissident Li Wangyang in Hunan province, whose body was cremated on June 9 reportedly with consent of Li's family.

    More than 30 organizations, comprising labor, women, Catholic, Protestant, student and political groups co-organized the protest. Organizers said 25,000 people took part in the march from Central district to the Chinese central government's Liaison Office in western district; whereas police claimed 5,400 protesters took part.

    The protesters, mostly dressed in black, mourned the death of Li and demanded justice over his death, and demanded a release of all political dissidents, a halt to clamp down on pro-democracy movement in China and vindication of June 4, 1989 movement. Many protesters brought flowers and incense for Li.

    The march, under a heat of 30 degrees Celsius, was led by a big photo of Li and a big banner with Chinese character "dian" (meaning libation), as being used in traditional Chinese funeral procession (see photo).

    Li, 62, had spent 21 years in jail after the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He joined the movement as a labor leader in Shaoyang, Hunan province, central China. Released in 2011, he had lost his sight and hearing, and became disabled because of the mistreatment he received while in jail.

    In early June, Li was interviewed by a Hong Kong media on the occasion of the commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of June 4 massacre. Li firmly said he hoped to see a democratic China and an end to the one-party rule, and he did not regret taking part in the pro-democracy movement. "Even if my head is to be chopped, I do not regret," Li said.

    Then, on June 6, Li was found dead, and local government officials alleged Li had committed suicide at his hospital bed. While the truth of his death was not clear, his body was removed quickly and cremated on June 10. The Chinese authorities claimed to have consent of his family, but Li's family could not be reached for confirmation. A friend of Li, who was tightly under surveillance, told the press by phone that he believed Li's family agreed to the cremation under great pressure from the government.

    The Hong Kong protesters demanded the probe into the truth of Li's death and justice for Li and his family, and urged for release for all political dissidents and a halt to clamp down on pro-democracy movement.

    Hong Kong pro-Beijing legislator, Ip Kwok-him, also a delegate of the National People's Congress, made a U-turn decision yesterday, saying he would write to the NPC chairman about a probe into Li case. Earlier, he said he would not pursue the case.

    Wong, a driver, told AsiaNews that he protested because he deeply "respected Mr Li's strong will to have democracy in China and great suffering in jail in the past decades. A probe into his death must be done to give justice to him and his family. Twenty-three years ago, I saw from TV news how the pro-democracy movement developed and cracked down. It is a truth, then and now. We have a conscience to speak out for the justice for him and his family."

    About 100 Catholic protesters held a short prayer for Li and his family as well as for all dissidents in China before they joined the march.

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    See also

    02/07/2008 HONG KONG - CHINA
    July 1 march less numerous, but still preoccupying for Beijing
    About 48,000 people braved the heat of Hong Kong to call for human rights at the Olympics, to criticise the policies of the government of Donald Tsang, to express concern over inflation. Vice-president Xi Jinping postpones his arrival in the territory by one week.

    28/06/2004 hong kong - china
    Beijing tones down its rhetoric ahead of July 1

    Even pro-Democracy advocates seek dialogue with the government and with Beijing



    01/06/2009 HONG KONG – CHINA
    Thousands march in Hong Kong to remember Tiananmen
    Last year there was one thousand, this year there were 8 thousand. Many are expected to turn out for the Victoria Park vigil on June 4th. Xiong Yan, the leader of Tiananmen, now in exile in the USA, got his visa a day before, after a series of rejections. Some students from China present. Hong Kong is the only place on Chinese soil where Tiananmen is publicly commemorated.

    06/12/2005 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Chinese premier "concerned" after Hong Kong march

    Currently on an official visit in Paris, Wen Jiabao expressed hope that development in Hong King "and eventual universal suffrage" can be reached "through the law". The Chinese media did not cover the demonstration at all.



    01/07/2004 HONG KONG – CHINA
    Pro-Democracy Rally Shakes Up Hong Kong and China




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