The father of a woman, who was sent to a psychiatric hospital for defacing a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has died suddenly in detention, with the authorities moving to cremate his remains amid suspicions of violence, media reports said.
Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hunan incarcerated Dong Yaoqiong in a psychiatric hospital for splashing ink on a poster of Xi Jinping in a live-streamed protest on social media, RFA reported.
Her father Dong Jianbiao, who was detained by local police after he spoke out about her treatment, died in prison on September 23, rights website Weiquanwang quoted activist Chen Siming as saying.
Chen himself was detained after telling people about Dong's death, the report said.
According to Siming, Dong's relatives said his body was covered with signs of injury when they went to identify him in the morgue, and that the authorities had had his remains cremated days later.
Dong Yaoqiong was sent for "compulsory treatment" after she streamed a live video of herself splashing ink on a poster of President Xi in protest against "authoritarian tyranny" on July 4, 2018.
She was then committed as a psychiatric patient in a women's ward in Hunan's Zhuzhou No. 3 Hospital. Dong Jianbiao, who was detained when he tried to visit her, had suggested the authorities put extreme pressure on her mother to sign the committal papers.
A cousin of Dong Yaoqiong told RFA that Dong's funeral took place in his hometown of Taoshui in Hunan's You county on Monday.
Dissident artist Hua Yong, a friend of Dong, said there is likely more to his death than diabetes.
"He was a very strong-minded, stubborn person who was also brave and optimistic... So we can definitely rule out the possibility of suicide," Hua told RFA.
"Given that he was alone in a prison with very tight security, he must have been beaten to death," he said.
Hua said Dong's insistence on speaking out about the authorities' treatment of his daughter was likely the main factor behind his death.
"Dong Jianbiao kept trying to see his daughter, and has been talking about her [publicly] for many years. I think the authorities were waiting for a reason to get him into prison, and just a year later, he's dead," he said.