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No redress after 10-year petitioning of brother’s sudden death in east China prison

Posted by Author on July 23, 2010

Radio Free Asia, 2010-07-23 –

HONG KONG
— Wang Shengli has been petitioning the authorities in the northern port city of Tianjin for a decade over the death in prison of his younger brother Wang Shengjie.

Hounded by local officials and sentenced to a year in a labor camp in 2008 for disturbing public order, Wang said his decade of petitioning with no redress had left him close to despair.

“I thought about killing myself sometimes when I was in Beijing,” said Wang, who was detained by Tianjin officials on his way to a hospital appointment in the capital in August 2008.

“I thought about death. I couldn’t seem to find any hope in staying alive,” he said.

“[One time] I stood under the portrait of Chairman Mao on Tiananmen Gate, and bowed to him. I said that today’s society is so very dark, and there are so many demons riding the heads of ordinary people, tyrannical abusers, feeding on the people, beating them.”

Last month, authorities in Beijing dispersed a group of protesters who gathered near a railway station in the southern part of the capital and sang revolutionary songs from the Mao era.

China’s army of petitioners say they are repeatedly stonewalled, detained in “black jails,” beaten, and harassed by authorities if they try to take a complaint against local government actions to a higher level of government.

Death in jail

Wang’s troubles began after he was contacted in August 2001 by the authorities in Tianjin’s Yangliuqing Prison and informed that his brother had died suddenly on Aug. 28 of a heart attack.

Prison officials said Wang Shengjie was on his way to the showers at 3 p.m. after finishing work when he suddenly complained of feeling unwell. He squatted down on the floor, and then collapsed and died, they said.

A state prosecutor at the jail had immediately ordered an autopsy.

“They reported after this examination that there were no marks or injuries on my brother’s body, and that there was no evidence that he had been beaten,” Wang said.

“They had already sent my brother’s body to an undertaker’s in Zhongbeixie township.”

The next morning, Wang Shengjie’s relatives were escorted to the funeral parlor by officials from the local procuratorate.

“I looked and saw that my brother’s body was still dressed in prison clothes,” Wang recalled.

“I asked if he was still a criminal. They said that no, he wasn’t. So I asked why he was wearing prison clothes.”

Wang said his younger sister and a friend was shocked to see Wang Shengjie’s body when it was turned over.

“There were more than 20 injuries on my brother’s body. There were rope burns and lash marks from a whip, and marks … on his ankles,” he said.

“At the time, the prison officials looked flustered by this, and said that they hadn’t seen them before, and that they could lose their jobs over it. I took photos. They tried to stop us. The police also looked very nervous.”…… (more details from Radio Free Asia: Death in Custody Unresolved)

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