International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on February 26, prominent Chinese Christian lawyer Li Baiguang died suddenly due to liver failure in PLA Bayi Hospital, Nanjing. He died at the age of 49 and is survived by his wife, Xu Hanmei, and their eight-year-old son.
According to his cousin, Liu Peifu, who is also his partner at their law firm, Li died of final stage liver cancer, though he appeared to be healthy beforehand.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Liu said, "He had never gone through a physical exam before, so he didn't know that he had the condition. He was sent to the hospital after he felt ill. He only learned of it (last stage liver cancer) these past two days."
Reuters reported that the hospital where he died declined to comment.
Liu also stated that Li was not detained by the authorities before his death.
However, his longtime friend Bob Fu of China Aid finds his death suspicious given that Li was just in Washington D.C., attending the National Prayer Breakfast, at the beginning of the month. "He did not have liver related illness before and his death raises a lot of questions," Fu said."Chinese regime should be fully held accountable."
Last October, Li was kidnapped by more than 10 Public Security Bureau plainclothes officials in Zhejiang province when he was defending victims of land grabs. He was beaten severely and threatened with dismemberment should he refuse to leave. They abandoned him on the side of the road after leaving him with bruises and soft tissue contusions.
Li Baiguang, a devoted Christian and human rights lawyer, took on hundreds of rights defense cases in the past decade. He was arrested multiple times for his work. He received the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy in 2008. His dedication to freedom and human rights was also recognized by former president George W. Bush. Last year, China Aid presented Li with the 2016 Courage Award for Defense of Religious Freedom in China. Other recipients include renowned Christian lawyers Zhang Kai, Gao Zhisheng, and Li Heping.
Gina Goh, ICC's Regional Manager, said, "We are saddened by the death of Mr. Li, a brother in Christ who stood up for persecuted Christians in China and became persecuted by the authorities himself. He will be remembered as a fighter for the oppressed and an advocate for freedom and democracy. While we keep his family in prayer, forget not those Christian lawyers who are still suffering at the hands of the communist regime."
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Publication date: February 26, 2018