Coronavirus: Outpouring of grief and anger after the death of whistle-blower Dr Li Wenliang (1986-2020)
* Widely shared online obituaries hail 34-year-old ophthalmologist as an ‘ordinary hero’, while social media users are scathing in criticism of Wuhan authorities.
* Li shared his whistle-blower reprimand with Weibo followers.
On Thursday night and Friday morning, three rapidly trending social media hashtags – “The Wuhan government owes Li Wenliang an apology”, “I want freedom of speech”, and “We want freedom of speech” – were seen millions of times before they were censored in China’s Great Firewall.
Others posted pictures of candles, Li’s portrait, and a quote from a Caixin interview Li gave in his final days: “A healthy society should not only have one kind of voice.”
Some people shared Do You Hear the People Sing?, a song from the musical Les Miserables adopted as an anthem by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.
Li – along with seven others (including at least three doctors) who shared information about the outbreak – was summoned by police and forced to sign a letter promising to make no further disclosures about the disease.
“It is a very big crisis. China’s public opinion was divided, but this time a consensus has been formed. The public share the same attitude and harbour the sentiments of sympathy, suppression and grieving anger,” Wuhan University law professor Qin Qianhong said.
“I am worried that the situation could explode, or become like when [former Communist Party general secretary] Hu Yaobang died or even more serious.”
Hu’s death on April 15, 1989, triggered mass protests that later morphed into the Tiananmen student movement.
#RobertReview (China): 9 | 10
Tank Man of 2020: Wuhan Whistle-blower Dr Li Wenliang
“Wuhan Whistle-blower Dr Li Wenliang’s death is a haunting symbol of CCP’s dark side”.
Published: 7th February 2020.
Updated: 8th February 2020.