Two weeks after veteran pro-democracy activist Li Wangyang died under suspicious circumstances, some of his friends who have spoken out about his case remained detained by police or were still under house arrest yesterday, according to people familiar with them.
Li, a labour rights campaigner from Hunan, was jailed for 21 years for his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
He was found dead in a hospital in Shaoyang on June 6, a year after his release, but his family and friends have refused to accept the police explanation that Li, 62, hanged himself in his hospital ward.
Activist Zhu Chengzhi, who was given a 10-day administrative detention by police on June 8 after disputing the official ruling that Li committed suicide, should have been released on Monday, but he was immediately taken into police custody again, according to fellow activist Wang Lihong .
Zhu's wife, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, earlier said that Zhu was detained for 10 days because he refused to sign a statement vowing not to investigate Li's death or speak about it again.
Wang, who spoke to Zhu's wife yesterday, said Zhu's wife went to the police station in Shaoyang to pick up her husband on Monday but was told he could not yet be released.
Shaoyang police then called her yesterday to say that her husband had been taken to the police detention centre in the city on Monday night, but they refused to tell her why, Wang said.
'They said only that he couldn't go home yet because they wanted to clarify some things,' Wang quoted Zhu's wife as saying.
Calls to the Shaoyang Public Security Bureau and police detention centre went unanswered yesterday.
Several of Li's Hunan-based friends could not be reached by phone yesterday, and their whereabouts were unknown.
One friend, Luo Xiaoqing, said by phone that he had been confined to his home for more than a week, with several guards blocking his front door 24 hours a day.
Luo, who briefly spoke to a Hong Kong reporter while visiting Li's sister after his death, said he believed that other friends of his were also being subjected to similar treatment. 'Everyone has the right to express doubts; they have no reason to do this [to me],' Luo said.
Meanwhile, Li's sister, Li Wangling, and her husband, Zhao Baozhu, remained missing yesterday and were believed by some of their friends to be held by police. The couple could not be reached by phone.