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H.K. activists demand reinvestigation of dissident's "suicide"


A group of Hong Kong activists on Thursday urged Chinese authorities to reinvestigate the suspicious death one year ago of dissident Li Wangyang, arguing he could not have committed suicide as officials had concluded.

Li, a labor activist who led protests during the 1989 prodemocracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, was said to have hanged himself in a tightly guarded hospital ward in Xiaoyang City of southern China's Hunan Province on June 6, 2012. Friends and supporters suspect he was killed and the suicide was staged.

"Condolences to Wangyang! Eradicate injustice!" about 30 protesters chanted while protesting outside the Central Liaison Office, Beijing's representative office in Hong Kong, which barricaded-up its gate to keep them away.

The protesters -- from the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the Civic Party and a teachers' union -- asked Chinese authorities to allow an independent investigation into Li's death, punish anybody found responsible for covering up the cause of his death and to stop persecuting Li's family and friends.

Li's sister Li Wangling and her husband Zhao Baozhu have been held intermittently under house arrest. Zhao told the Radio Television Hong Kong said they are barred from leaving home.

"We're deeply saddened," Zhao said, adding that they are mourning Li's death at home as they're not allowed to go out.

"We can't say more. There are people. You should understand, I can't say more on telephone, my phone is bugged, please understand," he said.

Li's friend Zhu Chengzhi, who helped videotape his hanging body in the ward before police took it away and cremated it within days, remains in police custody, even though prosecutors have reportedly decided not to pursue charges of subversion filed against him, for lack of evidence.

Other advocates have been warned by authorities not to go to Xiaoyang to mourn, it was reported.

Li, who spent about 22 years in prison and was released blind and nearly deaf, was seen in photographs hanged by his neck with the soles of his feet flatly touching on the ground in the hospital ward, just days after Hong Kong's Cable TV broadcast an interview in which he reflected on his fight for democracy in China by saying, "Even (if I were to be) beheaded, I wouldn't turn back."

Li's suspicious death last year prompted outcry on the Internet with netizens calling for a just investigation, and thousands of people in Hong Kong rallied for a protest.

Hunan's Communist Party chief later said experts found "clear facts and immaculate evidence" that Li committed suicide.