On July 1, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that a man aged over 60 from Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, was detained by local authorities for several hours after complaining to the provincial Bureau of Letters and Calls. While being released, he was dragged away and run over by the vehicle that had locked him up. In the end, he was seriously injured and died.
Li Tianming, 65, a resident of Gushan town, Fuzhou, and his wife went to the Provincial Bureau of Letters and Calls to complain on the morning of June 28 but were blocked outside the door by more than a dozen people.
Li Tianming’s son informed the reporter that his parents were imprisoned in a nearby van. Security made his parents stay in the car and did not let them out until around 5 p.m. The unexpected accident occurred at the time his father was released.
Li’s son stated, “During their eight-hour detention, they were monitored on the spot, were not allowed to move, and were not allowed to use the restroom. My father grabbed the car door while they were pushing my father out of the car, but they ignored him and started the car anyway. The van dragged him about ten meters. When the car turned around, they pushed my father out from the door. My mother claims that the rear wheel collided with my father’s stomach.”
Authorities rejected Li Tianming’s appeal against the demolition and relocation of his home.
Li Tianming was taken to the hospital for treatment but died due to his injuries. His son believes the Gushan town authority cannot reject responsibility for his father’s death.
His son said: “Gushan Town Government bears primary responsibility. All of the employees (involved in the incident) are from the security company hired by the Gushan Town Government, as a result of my subsequent lawsuit. Gushan town government dispatched someone to mediate with us, but not on behalf of the government, but on behalf of the security company.”
Before the accident, Li Tianming had been struggling with demolition and relocation, according to the RFA reporter. The family believes that the authorities’ obstruction caused Mr. Li’s unfortunate death and urges the police to handle the case reasonably.
According to Li’s son: “Although the police have not yet mentioned cremation, my mother took a photograph of my father lying on the side of the road when the accident occurred. When I arrived at the hospital and took pictures of my father being treated in a hospital bed, the police agency deleted our pictures. My only question was why the case was confirmed and determined to be manslaughter while abduction and illegal detention were not mentioned.”
The public believes the appeals system causes tragedy.
Li’s son hopes that higher authorities will intervene in the case and bring his father justice. On Friday, the RFA reporter attempted several times to contact the Gushan Town People’s management and the Fujian Bureau of Letters and Calls to learn more about the incident, but no one answered the phone.
An anonymous Fuzhou resident believes the Gushan town authority will coerce and threaten Li Tianming’s family.
RFA quoted a Fuzhou resident saying, “When the outside world pays attention to the case and puts pressure on the authorities, the authorities will usually contact the deceased’s family first in order to put pressure on them to keep stability and control over their family. If you want your problem to be resolved, you must be humble, do nothing, and remain silent. We will negotiate with you, possibly as a form of compensation. But how can they make compensation for human life?”
This resident believes that the local authority caused Li Tianming’s death.
He strongly condemns China’s appeals system and believes the regime should not delegate petitioners’ issues to local authorities; otherwise, those who complain will be persecuted, arrested, and retaliated against repeatedly.
Chinese officials once said they must beat complainers and not show mercy to sick people or pregnant women.
An internal audio recording of a speech allegedly given by a senior official on maintaining stability in Inner Mongolia was circulated on the Internet in January 2021, emphasizing that while violence was necessary to deal with the petitioners, it was critical to avoid letting the petitioners die.
It’s believed the viral Internet speech came from a petition and stabilization meeting two years earlier in Hulunbuir, Mongolia. During the meeting, the official accused the local police of failing to enforce the law.
“In some places, the police do not find ways to act, but only find excuses not to act, such as because the complainant is elderly and cannot be beaten, and also people with diabetes and high blood pressure, pregnant women, and so on are not allowed,” said this official. “You must fight, I tell you.”
The Chinese press identified the official speaker as Dong Shimin, the director of the local protest bureau at the time. He directed the police not to be merciful to sick petitioners or pregnant women but not to impose severe consequences.
The official added, “It’s unacceptable to allow people to die in prison. It will be a major issue if they die in prison. I sent four doctors and eight nurses to try ten days in detention. After that, they all wrote letters of bail and repentance, and the effect was excellent.
- First, they must be beaten.
- Second, they must not be allowed to die in prison because death in prison is associated with the police. It’s upsetting that someone died here, which brings the police into trouble.”
Dong Shimin was promoted to director of the Hulunbuir Justice Office in 2020. However, he did not directly deny the incident when the media investigated it but only stated that someone made up the recording. Consequently, he was fired in February 2021.