'Our Father Died From Violent Force, Not Natural Causes'

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An undated photo of the son of Yang Chunquan kneeling in front of the prosecutor's office in Dandong city, appealing for a thorough probe into the circumstances that led to the death of his father.
Photo courtesy of Boxun.

In February 2013, long-term petitioner Yang Chunquan died in the Fengcheng city detention center in China's northeastern province of Liaoning. Police said he had "died in his sleep," and an autopsy report in October claimed he had died "of natural causes." Surveillance footage from within the facility shows Yang being dragged out of his cell shortly before his death. And independent assessments of the autopsy confirmed that violence was used, according to Yang's daughter Yang Weibing and his sister, who spoke to RFA about their struggle to uncover the truth surrounding Yang's death.

Yang Weibing:

After the autopsy in October, all they gave us was a photocopied report. We asked for the original but they wouldn't hand it over. After that, we asked for the videotape, but they said the autopsy videotape was in the hands of the police. They said they had let the medical examiner watch the videotape, and the medical examiner said there was a problem with the injuries to his head, that they were caused by an external blow, because most brain matter is white, but my father's was reddish-colored. This wasn't mentioned in the autopsy report, which said everything was normal.

[The medical examiner] produced no written evidence of their views, because the police department and the procuratorate put a huge amount of pressure on them. To this day, they won't have anything to do with us and tell us to go to the police for answers.

We have petitioned the authorities in Beijing, but the interceptors brought us back home again, promising we would get a meeting with local leaders who would resolve the issue for us. But after we got back, they took us straight to a police station in Donggang city, which is where our household registration is. They detained us there for 10 days for disturbing public order. They tried to force me then to sign a guarantee written by a lawyer that I wouldn't post anything online [about my father's death].

My heart isn't great, especially when I get a shock, and I was unwell while in the detention center. But all they gave us was a bowl of soup and some steamed buns.

Yang Chunquan's sister:

We sought out experts to watch the autopsy video, and the experts told us that [his injuries] had been caused by violent force. We then hired a couple of lawyers, who told us that we'd have to request another autopsy from the procuratorate [state prosecutor] if we wanted to pursue the case through legal procedures. But the procuratorate refused to get involved, so basically no one will have anything to do with us now.

The [son and daughter] he left behind are on their own now, and the [son] has ditched school and is picking up unwanted food from a wholesale market in Beijing.

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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