Amnesty International just updated their website alerts to confirm that 62 year-old Chinese human rights activist Zhu Chengzhi has been formally charged with “inciting subversion of state power” after being detained on June 9th along with several other activists, for publicly questioning the official cause of death of his friend Li Wangyang. The day marked the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square tragedy during which the Chinese military opened fire on pro-democracy students gathered in Beijing’s famous square.
According to the overseas-based group China Human Rights Defenders, this is due to the fact that Mr. Zhu cast doubt as to the cause of fellow activist Li Wangyang’s death on June 6th. Mr. Li , who was blind, was in policy custody at the time of his death; the authorities categorized it as a suicide which sparked suspicions and a public outcry.
Mr. Li’s body was found in Daxiang District People’s Hospital in Shaoyang city, where he had been receiving treatment for serious illnesses since his release from prison in May 2011. The local authorities maintained that his death was a suicide, but his family and friends have questioned this. Following domestic and international outcry, on June 15th, the Hunan Province police announced a task force had been set up to investigate Li Wangyang’s death. The investigation has now closed; the authorities maintained the earlier verdict of suicide.
According to Amnesty, Zeng Qinglian, Mr. Zhu’s wife, received notice from the authorities that Mr. Zhu was to serve 10 days’ administrative detention for disrupting public order, and would be released on June 18th. She thinks that her husband was detained for refusing to sign an agreement not to call for an independent investigation into the death of Li Wangyang.
Mr. Zhu was sent to 10 days administrative detention for disrupting the public order and should have been released on June 18th. However, on that date he was instead transferred to a detention facility in Hunan province in south-central China where he has been held incommunicado. He had not been charged.
Amnesty also said that according to a reliable source close to her, Ms. Zeng was told that if she instructed a lawyer to act on her husband’s behalf, he would not be able to meet this lawyer. Mr. Zhu’s family has not been told the basis for his continued detention, or how long he will be detained.
A trial date has not been made public.