Sister speaks out after Henan petitioner beaten to death by black guards

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2012, 12:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2012, 3:40pm

A petitioner from China’s central Henan province died in Beijing after he was beaten by guards, media reported a month after the death. Now the sister of the victim is looking for justice.

The sister, Zhang Yaohua, told Caixin magazine in a story published this week that the family had been forbidden to speak out about the case and had been coerced into signing an agreement acknowledging that her brother had died of a sudden illness.

She was also forbidden to take photos of Zhang Yaodong’s body, although she managed to take a few with her mobile phone before the body was cremated, she said.

Zhang Yaodong’s children were paid 3 million yuan (HK$3.7 million) on November 26, but the government has refused to pay the rest of the compensation after the sister revealed his story online, said Caixin.

Over the years, the sister had supported Zhang’s petitioning for justice over a business dispute. On November 6, he thought his efforts had finally paid off when he received a call to come home.

His sister had called to tell him that local courts had finally agreed to resolve issues resulting from his unsuccessful lawsuit with a business partner years ago.

Zhang, 55, and several other petitioners from Henan were then picked up by guards who were supposed to escort them home. They got in a mini-van headed for the train station.

But Zhang never made it home.

An hour later, his sister received a call from a petitioner who was in the van, Wang Yueqin. Wang told her Zhang had become comatose after being beaten by guards in the vehicle.

Wang and Zhang had refused to turn in their mobile phones and asked the guards to show their work permits, said Wang. This had angered the guards who started beating Zhang. The beating lasted for more than 10 minutes.

When Zhang lost consciousness and stopped responding, the guards continued slapping his face and shouted “stop faking it”, according to Wang.

When the guards found that Zhang was not breathing, they panicked and tried first aid on him. After efforts to revive him failed, they drove him to a hospital.

Zhang’s sister arrived in Beijing the following day, only to find her brother dead.

The family was then made to sign the agreement recognising Zhang had died of a sudden illness.

When Zhang’s son demanded an autopsy, officials threatened to withhold the compensation, said Caixin. But the much-anticipated 18th national congress of the Communist Party was set to open on November 8, and officials in Beijing and Henan wanted a quiet settlement.

Zhang’s son and daughter signed an agreement with the Henan government on November 16. It said they would be paid 3.3 million yuan compensation in 10 days, under the condition that they give up pursuing any legal actions.

Despite the withheld money, the sister, Zhang Yaohua, said she would continue to seek justice.

Meanwhile, the children said their family had made huge sacrifices over the past 10 years when their father was petitioning in Beijing, and all they wanted now was a peaceful life, said Caixin.