Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Hardly Setting the Record Straight

Hunan party chief Zhou Qiang maybe wishing he could eat his words
The investigation into activist Li Wangyang's death becomes more outrageous by the day.

Now Zhou Qiang, the party secretary of Hunan province has spoken out confirming Li committed suicide on June 6.

"The fact that Li committed suicide is crystal clear with verified evidence," he told visiting Hong Kong reporters.

He confirms an official report released July 12 stating that Li had torn a strip from a bed sheet which he used to hang himself from the window while his roommate slept, even though his feet were on the ground and the 62-year-old was physically fragile, deaf and blind.

Zhou said the Public Security Bureau in Hunan sought the help of Cong Bin, a vice-chairman of the Chinese Forensic Medicine Association, as well as other experts.

They led an investigation based on the findings of four pathologists from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, who authorities claimed, conducted an autopsy on Li on June 8.

"With the assistance of other experts specializing in criminal investigation, forensic medication and legal science, and after a conscientious and careful investigation in accordance with mainland law, Cong concluded that Li killed himself," said Zhou, who trained as a legal professional at college.

However activist Hu Jia questioned Zhou statements, saying he "defended an investigation that was neither credible nor reliable".

"Those experts might give truly professional opinions in common criminal cases, but in such a high profile, political case as Li's their role is to help ensure the credibility of government is not damaged," said Hu.

He is supported by Liu Weiguo, a lawyer from Shandong province who sent an open letter to China's top legislature seeking a new investigation into the circumstances of how Li died.

"The investigation was not complete and some key parts were missed. The professional qualifications of the experts involved doesn't necessarily mean the investigation was authoritative," Liu said.

To add weight to his statement, Zhou added none of Hunan's 71 million citizens had any suspicion about the results of the investigation, adding that even Li's relatives, including his younger sister, all accepted the conclusion.

But Hu said Zhou did not acknowledge that Li's family and friends who were likely to challenge the investigation were muzzled.

One of Li's close friends, Zhu Chengzhi had disappeared and it is believed he is in detention awaiting criminal investigation, while other supporters are under house arrest and is sister had lost contact with other activists.

It's interesting to see Zhou try to put an end to this fiasco once and for all, but the weight of his words and stature don't mean much when one looks at how Li's case has been handled, cremating him so quickly and not allowing an independent investigation or autopsy.

Zhou's credibility is riding on how Li's case is handled as he is considered a rising star tipped for further promotion in the upcoming 18th national congress this fall. The bungling of Li's death has led to ridicule of Zhou and he has also side-stepped questions on how this will affect his political career.

It's all too plain to see a lot has gone wrong with Li's case and nothing done to rectify the situation, nor to release his relatives and supporters.

This only shows the government's inability to take responsibility for its actions and face up to the truth.

The fact that Zhou said that it was "crystal clear" that Li committed suicide is so ludicrous it leaves us exasperated.

Trying to cover up the death of a deaf and blind man whose hands shook only reveals how much the authorities feared this helpless man.

While Li may be physically gone, he still continues to haunt the government.

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