(Nanjing, Jiangsu) Physicians in China’s eastern Jiangsu province declared renowned Christian human rights lawyer Li Baiguang dead today despite a previous record of clean health, indicating that he was murdered by the Chinese Communist Party, whom he often opposed.
Li went to the hospital for a minor stomachache and was declared dead hours later. The hospital alleged that he had liver problems and that he bled to death, but Li was previously healthy.
China has a history of either neglecting the medical conditions of human rights activists until they succumb to them or declaring previously healthy people dead, as exemplified in the cases of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, pro-democracy activist and Christian Yang Tianshui, and prisoner of conscience Peng Ming, demonstrating that the Chinese government is taking an active hand in the deaths of those who stand for liberty.
Just weeks before his death, Li attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., with ChinaAid President Bob Fu and a delegation of Chinese human rights activists. In the past, he represented numerous illegally arrested Chinese pastors and received the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for his efforts to advance human rights and religious freedom in China. President George W. Bush also met with him three times due to his courageous work.
Li’s bravery knew no bounds, and he steadfastly defended the oppressed despite death threats made against him. A few months ago, he was kidnapped by Chinese officials in Zhejiang province, beaten, and forced to leave the area on the threat of dismemberment for defending farmers whose land was illegally taken by the government.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of China’s most courageous, pro-constitution lawyers,” Fu, who remained a close friend and co-worker Li for more than a decade. “He was treated violently last year and was threatened a number of times recently by the Chinese regime. He has been a bold and compassionate human rights lawyer, always ready in defense of the persecuted and vulnerable. Like in the sudden death of [Nobel Peace Prize laureate] Dr. Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese regime should be held totally accountable. The whole world should demand that the Chinese government give a full, independent, and transparent account on what caused Dr Li’s sudden death.”
Li is survived by his wife, Xu Hanmei, and their eight-year-old son.
ChinaAid calls on the international community and leaders of the free world to speak out against Li’s death and call China to an account for its abusive and murderous actions so that no other person will suffer a similar fate. This organization will continue to expose the abuses enacted against human rights activists and religious practitioners in order to secure religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law for all Chinese citizens.