Shandong Professor Assaulted for Commemorating Reformist Leader Zhao Ziyang

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(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, April 6, 2009) – Sun Wenguang (孙文广), a 75-year-old retired Shandong University professor and vocal dissident based in Jinan City, Shandong Province, was severely beaten on April 5 by a group of unidentified men on his way to the local cemetery to commemorate the life of Zhao Ziyang, the late reformist CCP Secretary General known for his sympathy with student demonstrators during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. April 5 was Qingming Festival, a traditional Chinese holiday to remember and honor the dead. Sun was earlier warned against visiting the grave by local police.

On the morning of April 5, Sun and a friend were leaving for the cemetery when they were stopped outside the gate of Shandong University by policemen from the National Security Unit of the Jinan Public Security Bureau (PSB). Sun’s friend was barred from leaving but Sun was let go. Undeterred by threats from the officers, Sun continued on towards the cemetery, known as Heroes’ Mountain, followed closely by a police vehicle. At a secluded spot at the foot of the mountain, Sun was assaulted by five burly men, who beat and kicked him for over ten minutes. A passerby who witnessed the beating called an ambulance and Sun was taken to Qilu Hospital in Jinan City, where he was diagnosed with three broken ribs, injuries to his spine, head, back, arms and legs. Sun was given immediate emergency treatment, and is now out of danger and recovering from his injuries at the hospital. Sun believes that the police following him witnessed the beating and yet did nothing to stop the men.

“Chinese authorities are staging a campaign of terror to intimidate and suppress expressions of commemoration for the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Using violence to retaliate against Prof. Sun for remembering Zhao Ziyang, a reformer who was officially banished and lived the last years of his life under house arrest after 1989, is part of the overall campaign,” said Renee Xia, CHRD international director.

CHRD has documented many incidents in the past couple of years where human rights activists, lawyers, and petitioners have been subjected to attacks by unidentified men, often under the watchful eyes of police. One prominent case was that of human rights lawyer Li Heping (李和平), who was kidnapped on September 29, 2007, and brought to an undisclosed location where he was severely beaten before being dumped in the woods outside Beijing. Similar to other victims CHRD has documented, Li was threatened prior to the attack and no investigation was conducted after the beating was reported to the local PSB.


Sun, 75, from Rongcheng County in Shandong Province, is a retired professor of physics at Shandong University. Sun has been repeatedly persecuted for voicing dissenting views. In the early 1960s Sun was punished for “leaning towards the Right”; during the Cultural Revolution he was publicly denounced and paraded before being detained in a makeshift prison for 27 months and then in a solitary cell at a detention center for 3 and a half years for “counterrevolutionary crimes” such as criticizing Mao Zedong. In 1978, Sun was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for submitting articles to the central government criticizing Mao and Hua Guofeng, former premier of China and chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. In 1992, Sun was rehabilitated and he returned to teach at Shandong University. Sun continued to publish online articles critical of the government and to organize activities to promote human rights and democracy. As part of his activities commemorating the Tiananmen Massacre, Sun has been visiting the local cemetery to express his remembrance of Zhao Ziyang during Qingming Festival every year since Zhao’s death in 2005.

For more information, please see:

CHRD, “Professor Sun Wenguang Severely Beaten by Thugs for Honoring Zhao Ziyang at Gravesite; Sent to Hospital for Emergency Treatment (孙文广教授因祭奠赵紫阳被暴徒殴打重伤住院抢)”, April 5, 2009, /Article/Class53/200904/20090405012139_14718.html

CHRD, “Local Officials Must be Held Legally Accountable for Using Thugs to Persecute Rights Activists (地方官员动用黑恶势力迫害维权人士必须受到刑事责任追究)”, November 7, 2008, /Article/Class4/200811/20081107091718_11607.html

CHRD, “Beijing Police Suspected of Abduction and Torture of Human Rights Lawyer Li Heping”, October 1, 2008, /Article/Class9/Class15/200710/20071001230730_5851.html

Press contact

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +852 8191 6937
Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +852 8191 1660

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