20 Dissidents Harassed in Connection with Li's Death; Five Remain Missing
(Washington, D.C.) — Amnesty International today reacted skeptically to an autopsy report claiming that Li Wangyang committed suicide, renewing its call on China to allow an open and transparent investigation into the leading Chinese dissident's death.
Li's sister and brother-in-law, Li Wangling and Zhao Baozhu, who were detained on June 7 after questioning the official account of Li's death, have not been heard from since June 9 and their whereabouts remain unknown. They are among at least 20 dissidents in Hunan province that have been detained, harassed or intimidated in connection with activities relating to the activist's death. Five of the 20 remain missing.
"It's hard to put faith in official claims of fairness when we believe they are denying Li Wangyang's friends and loved ones their basic rights," said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director. "If the authorities want people to believe that the autopsy is credible, then they must come clean on the whereabouts of his family members and allow individuals to freely speak out on the case, without fear of harassment or disappearance."
The report, released yesterday, confirmed the government's assertion that Li committed suicide by hanging himself in his hospital room. At the time of his death, authorities were holding Li, a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, in a hospital in Hunan province.
In the aftermath of Li's death, outrage has grown among China's activist community. Thousands have signed an online petition disputing the authorities' explanation that Li committed suicide by hanging himself and in recent days, throngs of protesters have swelled the streets of downtown Hong Kong and Beijing.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.