Monday, August 13, 2012

The Standard: Rally awards `gold medals' in abuse

Kelly Ip

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dozens rallied outside the central government liaison office yesterday to protest at the arrest of activist Zhu Chengzhi.

Zhu was a close friend of democracy activist and labor rights champion Li Wangyang, who is said to have committed suicide on June 6.

Chanting and carrying banners, the activists marched from Western police station.

Taking advantage of the Olympics mood, some stuck plastic "gold medals" outside the office, suggesting that mainland authorities are champions when it comes to suppressing human rights activists.

Police kept a close watch on protesters, and officers on several occasions warned them not to try climbing the iron gate at the liaison office.

Zhu is now under arrest in Shaoyang, Hunan, on a charge of instigating subversion in an attempt to topple the government. Such a serious charge may lead to a long spell in prison.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organized the rally, urged Beijing to release Zhu and another rights activist, Xiao Yong, who was last month sentenced to 1 years of labor re-education.

They also demanded that authorities stop monitoring members of Li's family.

Protesters said blame for attempting to topple the government should instead be pinned on Shaoyang police for producing faked investigation reports and arresting rights activists.

Findings were that the near-blind Li, 62, hanged himself in a Shaoyang hospital room, and that was upheld by a review of the case in July.

If the suicide finding was true, protesters argued yesterday, there was no reason as to why Li's family should be incommunicado so long after his death.

Zhu, also 62, was among the first to dispute the claim Li committed suicide. He videotaped and took pictures of Li before his body was taken from the hospital. It showed Li's feet on the floor and a strip of cloth around his neck attached to a window bar.

Soon after that action Zhu was placed under administrative detention for 10 days for disrupting social order. He reportedly refused to sign a document promising not to question the circumstances surrounding Li's death. He has been held since then.

Suspicion over Li's death sent tens of thousands of Hong Kong people to the streets in June.


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