The focus on censorship, monitoring and other invasive, anti-free speech, state sponsored activities in China tends to be on the virtual domain.
But there is very real danger to speaking out in any forum. The recent case of Wang Zhongping clearly demonstrates the dangers of uncovering the dirty secrets of those in power.
Wang was found dead in prison apparently having committed suicide, but given the condition of his body which indicated recent beatings and other abuse his friends and family say he was murdered. Netizens have now taken up the cause and there is considerable online debate.
And what did Wang do to end up in jail? He blew the whistle on embezzlement and corruption by high ranking party officials.
It is a timely reminder that while we may feel safe sitting behind a computer in the virtual world it is as well to remember that saying the wrong thing can lead to horrific consequences in the real one.
The China Digital Times has, as usual, provided a good overview of the case.
A retired official in Hunan was cast into the Party’s notorious shuanggui disciplinary system in August after accusing his successor of embezzling public funds. A month later, Wang Zhongping was dead, and his family believes he was murdered. From Ministry of Tofu’s Jing Gao:
According to the police, at around 4:30 p.m. on September 26, Wang was discovered by the to have hanged himself while taking a shower in the bathroom. He was rushed to the emergency room by an ambulance at 5 p.m. and pronounced dead at 7:03 p.m. by the hospital staff.
[…] When Wang’s family arrived, they found multiple bruises clearly visible on his arms, legs and back. Deep strangulation marks could also been seen on his neck. His family was convinced that Wang’s death was a murder.
[…] Most netizens also seem to believe that it is a murder instead of a suicide, with a few exceptions who claimed the “bruises” are in fact only normal livor mortis, or postmortem lividity. One exclaimed, “During Shuanggui procedure, they torture (suspects) to death! Never buy the version in those movies!” Another chimed in, “Inspectors, you guys are as fierce as Japanese bandits!” Another lamented, “Anyone understands that better a live coward than a dead hero. But he really had to die.”
Wang’s case echoes that of Li Wangyang, a labour activist who ostensibly committed suicide in hospital in June, despite having defiantly stated days before that “I won’t retreat, even if I am beheaded.”