Li Wang Yang (李旺陽) was a worker in Shaoyang city, Hunan Province, when he led and organized the workers to participate in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. He was arrested and prisoned after the authority brutally crushed the movement on June 4. After 11 years in prison, he was released in 2000 only to be prisoned again the next year for allegedly connecting with overseas organizations. He was released in May 2011 after yet another 11 years in prison.
During the prison time, he lost his sight and his hearing ability due to torture. The prison authority used specially made pliers to pinch his hands. “I felt dizzy when they pinched really hard, and then I couldn’t see anything, ” he said.
Li was very frail, almost all teeth extracted, and could hardly walk without support after all the torture . Upon release in 2011, he was sent to hospital for treatment but was guarded 24 hours by national security personnel. His first public interview with a HK journalist was broadcast earlier this month, on 2 June, and on 6 June, the authority informed his relatives that Li had committed suicide.
No one would believe that Li would committee suicide in the hospital after he, with a strong character, had survived 21 years of imprisonment and torture. “This is assassination”, the HK journalist who interviewed him said. He blamed himself for leading to Li’s death.
It is believed by many that the authority wanted to punish Li for speaking to the media by killing him. And they might think, well, who cared, he was just a worker.
In the interview, Li said firmly about his determination to fight for democracy for the country and praised those, particularly Tiananmen Mothers for their tireless efforts to demand reassessment of the 1989 pro- democracy movement which was labeled by the authority as “riot”. He spoke eloquently and boldly in the interview about reversing the verdict on the movement.
People like Li Wang Yang would have been forgotten if not for the saddening tragedy. But who would want to remember him at the expense of his life? This is the real tragedy.
In the 1989 pro-democracy movement, workers were a formidable force, besides university students. But they were forgotten for their role and the subsequent persecution and suffering.
Shame on those Chinese who brag about their country’s might and power when people’s lives in their country can be taken anytime as those in power wish.
Salute Li and the likes of Li.
Please sign this Urgent Appeal for Credible Investigation into the Truth of Li Wangyang’s Death