GUANGZHOU, China--The supposed suicide of prominent activist Li Wangyang was greeted with disbelief among his supporters and a wave of pledges to never take their own lives, no matter what duress they face.
Li, 62, was found June 6 hanging from a window frame in a hospital room in the southern province of Hunan, according to news reports in Hong Kong and other sources.
The authorities said Li had committed suicide, but many suspect his death was unnatural and that the government had a hand in it.
Li rose to prominence by organizing worker demonstrations in Shaoyang, Hunan province, as the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests were taking place in Beijing in 1989.
That led to his imprisonment on a charge of "counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement."
After he was released, he entered a hospital, where he was kept under constant monitoring by the authorities.
Li was found with a slender piece of cloth around his neck that served as a noose.
Li was interviewed by Hong Kong media on June 2, during which he called for an official re-evaluation of the Tiananmen crackdown that led to many deaths.
Li's family has expressed strong reservations about the official explanation, saying he had no reason to commit suicide.
A demonstration in Hong Kong on June 10 attracted an estimated 25,000 people calling for the truth to be unearthed.
The no suicide pledges were the brainchild of Hu Jia, 38, a high-profile human rights activist.
"Citizen Hu Jia would never commit suicide under any circumstances," he wrote on his Twitter account. "I recommend you leave a written statement or a notary deed. This country never has a dearth of people who are forced to commit suicide."
A number of people, not all of them activists or dissidents, have followed suit and posted similar online comments.
"Please take me for killed if I ever commit suicide," one of them said.
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