Li Wangyang, a Chinese political prisoner who spent most of his life in detention, was found dead on the morning of Wednesday 6 June, 2012, after being interviewed by overseas media about the June 4 (Tiananmen Square) Massacre of 1989 and the life of political prisoners in China.
Li was released in May 5, 2011, after 22 years of imprisonment, deaf and blind because of torture he had received. He was a worker activist and participated in the 1989 student democratic movement as a leading figure for Shaoyang city autonomous worker league.
He was arrested after the Tiananmen crackdown and sent to jail for 11 years under the charge of state subversion. He started a hunger strike in prison and was tortured; the prison guards pulled out his teeth and forced him to eat. He was briefly released in 2000 but sent to prison again in May 2001 for ten years in a crackdown against the China Democracy Party, this time under the charge of incitement to subvert state power.
He was interviewed by Hong Kong cable television for a feature story on the 23rd anniversary of the June 4 Massacre. In his interview, he said he would never regret what he had done for democratic reform in China and he was encouraged by the insistence of Hong Kong people on the vindication of June 4 Massacre.
According to the Chinese Human Rights organization WeiquanWang's report [zh], Li's sister found his body hanging from the window frame of a hospital ward in which he was staying at 7am on June 6, as if he had committed suicide. The police then quickly took away Li's body ignoring the relatives’ request for taking pictures of the dead body. Li's friend refused to believe that Li had committed suicide:
Two photos [WARNING: graphic content] claimed to be taken by eyewitness of the hanging scene have been circulated widely via Facebook and Twitter. They show that the window frame from which Li was hung from was too low and that his feet were still resting on the ground.
Chinese netizens were outraged by the news, below is a selection of tweets reacting to the incident on Twitter [zh]:
Lam, try to learn some facts, like prevalence of “partial suspension hanging”:
“by means of partial suspension or partial weight-bearing on the ligature. This method has been most often used in prisons or other institutions, where full suspension support is difficult to devise.”