A military surgeon who blew the whistle on China’s SARS cover-up in 2003 and asked the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to reassess its 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen protesters has asked the government to apologize for detaining him.
Jiang Yanyong (蔣彥永) wrote to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) demanding an apology for time he spent confined in an army “guesthouse” and months under house arrest, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.
He also asked Hu to lift a ban on overseas travel.
There are no new revelations in the letter, but it is likely to upset the government by raising the sensitive Tiananmen protests just months before the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, and as officials grapple with the economic crisis.
The elderly doctor was hustled away from public view after he wrote an explosive letter in 2004 detailing his experience treating victims of the army assault on central Beijing on June 4, 1989, in which hundreds died.
He accused the army of using “fragmentation bullets” banned by international convention and of duping the soldiers who led the attack into thinking they were suppressing a rebellion.
In his latest missive, Jiang said that his actions in both 2003 and 2004 were driven by his responsibility as a doctor to save lives, and leaders would be breaking their promises of change and progress unless they apologized to him.
“Only then will they be in compliance with the ideals of [the CCP] leadership: ‘rule by law’, ‘the people first’ and ‘harmonious society,’” he wrote.
Jiang’s whistle-blowing on the SARS epidemic saved countless lives and made him a national hero — explaining in part the government’s harsh response when he decided to tackle the sensitive Tiananmen protests.
Jiang said he was kidnapped from his office and held for weeks at an army guesthouse, where he was forced to undergo “study sessions.” After seven weeks, he was returned home but placed under house arrest.
Once released, he was barred from traveling abroad and his request to quit the People’s Liberation Army was refused.