CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Call for United Nations investigation of Li’s suicide

HONG KONG (UCAN): A dozen civil society groups, together with former and current legislators in Hong Kong appealed for a United Nations (UN) special rapporteur to be appointed to investigate what they termed the suspicious circumstances surrounding the official finding of suicide as the cause of death of mainland labour rights advocate, Li Wangyang.

The groups made their call during a press conference held in Hong Kong on September 18. Representatives of the coalition will file a formal request during the UN Human Rights Council meeting later this month in New York.

The group stated that the UN should put pressure on the Chinese government to ensure a proper and impartial investigation of the case and compensation for Li’s family and the government must also do more to prevent crimes of a similar nature in the future.

Or Yan-yan, from the Justice and Peace Commission, said an independent review of Li’s autopsy reveals several unanswered questions.

She called Li’s case a “human rights violation, but there are no more channels through which to redress it in mainland China. So we have to take it to the UN and the international community.”

Stephen Cordner, a professor of forensic medicine at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, who also reviewed the case, said investigations conducted by the Hunan provincial government failed to meet international standards and did not provide sufficient information to definitively show that Li committed suicide.

Cordner added that Li had a fracture of a neck bone, which he described as being a rare injury to get from hanging yourself.

The coalition also accused the government of ignoring calls for intervention.

Li was found dead, hanging from the window bars of his prison hospital room on June 6, just days after being interviewed by a Hong Kong television station.

His sister, Li Wangling, and brother-in-law, Zhao Baozhu, were subsequently forcibly disappeared, while a long-time friend of the deceased, Zhu Chengzhi, was charged with subversion for spreading news of the suspicious circumstances of Li’s death.

Zhao and his wife told the local Ming Pao newspaper two weeks ago that they never gave their consent for an autopsy or approval for the body to be cremated.

They added they were also not included in any government investigation and did not endorse it.

This contradicts claims made by the government that Li’s family had agreed with the official report.

Ming Pao reporters were subsequently put under house arrest for nearly two days and forced to conduct their interview of Zhao and his wife again, under the supervision of government officials.

In the second interview, Zhao was asked again about the investigation and replied, “Let’s not talk about the past.”

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