Chinese activist Li Wangyang, a native of Hunan who had been in jail for more than two decades for his role in the pro-democracy movement in 1989, was found dead in hospital yesterday. Officials said he might have hanged himself. His family, however, refused to accept the official claim. They questioned why he was on his feet if he hanged himself. They also insisted that Li had always been strong despite his suffering and poor health throughout the years. Li was reportedly blind and deaf as a result of torture and maltreatment in prison.
Personality seems a bit arbitrary, especially when it comes to providing evidence for a criminal case. But the fact that Li was standing by the window is by all means intriguing and suspicious. That his family was barred from bidding Li farewell and his body was taken away despite his family's protest only fuelled the suspicions.
If what Li's family said is true and there is little distortion to their story, this is by all means horrendous. What is the point of killing a dissident, also a human life? To mute opposition? To show how committed they are to upholding the paramount principle of maintaining harmony? Why do the Chinese authorities, central and local alike, still believe they can put everything under control with repressive measures like this? Isn't there a flicker within their conscience in any split of second that reminds them of all those stories in history about the brutal revenge upon merciless dictators? We Chinese are one of the first peoples to start writing history and I take great pride in this fantastic heritage. But why so many people out there fail to learn from past mistakes? Human nature is extremely difficult to change, I agree, yet it can and should be restrained, if controlled, by reason and empathy. Otherwise what is the difference between humanity and animal instincts that drive us to kill and feed on the prey?
I have always tried to keep my head cool when it comes to discussions about the Chinese communist regime because I'm too familiar with all those biases, hostilities, prejudices and propositions. But the preliminary evidence in this case, or at least how the story is told, has already spoken for itself, too loud to be neglected. I am expecting someone to tell me everything is just a joke, or a well-planned conspiracy of the family to take advantage of the situation by blaming the authorities for Li's death. But any sensible person would not do this to his family. Or are you going to tell me anything can happen in the lawless and ruthless China?