China: Police detain Tiananmen veteran’s relatives

Li Wangyang, 62, was found dead in a hospital ward in Shaoyang on Wednesday and local officials said he had killed himself.

Updated: Jun 09, 2012, 13:24 PM IST

Beijing: Chinese police have reportedly detained relatives of a Tiananmen Square protest veteran after they raised concerns that he died in strange circumstances.

Li Wangyang, 62, was found dead in a hospital ward in Shaoyang on Wednesday, two days after the anniversary of the brutal crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

The blind activist had a noose around his neck and local officials said he had killed himself.

According to The Guardian, thousands of people signed an online petition calling for a probe into his death after relatives said his feet were on the floor when he was found and questioned whether he was physically able to hang himself given his ill health.

A human rights group in China claimed that police had taken Li`s sister, Li Wangling, and her husband Zhao Baozhu to a hotel and were holding them there.

The group, Human Rights in China (HRIC), quoted an unnamed source as saying that the couple felt isolated and feared for their safety.

“HRIC is deeply concerned about the safety of Li`s sister and brother-in-law and urges that the authorities immediately restore their personal freedom and ensure the right of Li`s family to retain legal representation of their own choosing,” the group said in a statement.

Li was jailed for instigating counter-revolutionary propaganda after co-founding the Labour Autonomous Union to support the student protestors in 1989.

When he was released in 2000 he sued for compensation, earning himself another lengthy sentence for the same crime.

ANI