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84 Days and Nights in Guangzhou
Sun Zhigang (male, 27) worked with a garment company in Guangzhou. On March 17, he was detained by police and sent to a holding center and three days later he died at a clinic for holding vagrants and beggars. Wuhan Evening News tells about the days Sun's family members in Guangzhou tried to find out the real cause of his death.

Crying towards the funeral parlor

Even some three months later, the 54-year-old Sun Liusong, Sun Zhigang's father, still has a color of shock on his face when recalling that terrible moment.

"It was on March 20. A woman classmate of Sun Zhigang called from Wuhan, saying Sun Zhigang might meet some trouble in Guangzhou. When I asked what's wrong, it seemed she did not want to tell me at first because she inquired whether Sun Zhigang has younger sisters or younger brothers. Upon my insistence, she told me that Sun Zhigang died in a holding center clinic in Guangzhou."

At the same time, Sun Zhiguo, who works in Wuhan, also got the bad news of his elder brother's death. The father rushed to Wuhan from Huanggang by taxi, then the two caught the train that night, arriving in Guangzhou at 11 am March 21, the very next day. All the way they could not help crying.

Then they ran to the funeral parlor to identify the body. Without any knowledge of law, they just felt very puzzled and suspicious when being told Zhigang died of cerebral hemorrhage and a heart attack. However, in their memory, Zhigang had never had such a kind of disease because he liked sport activities and was good at running and swimming.

"Moreover, Zhigang was healthy before he left home," said the old Sun. After spending the Spring Festival at home, Zhigang left for Guangzhou. When saying goodbye to the families, Zhigang shook his father's hand and said with deep motion that he really did not want to leave if it was not for the sake of work.

In the following two days, Zhigang first visited his aunt's home in Wuhan, and then he went to Guangzhou.

Facing difficulties everywhere

After arriving in Guangzhou, this small group of five people, including Sun Liusong, Sun Zhiguo and Zhigang's uncle Sun Haisong, all slept on the ground at the rented room of Shu Chuncheng, Zhigang's high school classmate.

So the five adults crowded in a small room until 20 days later Shu Chuncheng moved out and left the room for the Sun family.

In an unfamiliar city, the Sun family found it extremely difficult to do everything.

"At first, we did not know what to do. Some said to employ a lawyer in Guangzhou while other said to employ a lawyer in their hometown. We asked some lawyers in Guangzhou, but they dared not handle the case. So we had to go to the police station and the procuratorate everyday to inquire."

At the gate of Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau, one staff member came downstairs to collect the materials but asked them to go to the Public Health Bureau because Zhigang died in a clinic. While in Guangzhou Health Bureau they were told to go to the medical association to investigate the situation in that clinic.

The most annoying thing was the staff in the clinic where Zhigang died, who added as many difficulties as possible to the Sun family.

For Zhigang's death, they first insisted that Zhigang died of cerebral hemorrhage and a heart attack. When the Sun family wanted to see Zhigang's clothing, they refused by saying they were lost forever. Later when the Sun family went again, nobody came to meet them. What's more, they arranged for five people to guard the door in case the Sun family broke in.

Though the situation was very hard, the Sun family had just one thing in mind, to know how Sun Zhigang died.

Tide over a most pressing need

That was at the end of March, a prime time of the SARS epidemic when almost everyone hid at home. Yet, the Sun family was the exception.

As strangers in a big city, they often took wrong buses and lost their way.

Time passed by but there was no development in the probe of Zhigang's death.

When they really fell into deep disappointment, Wang Xiangbin, the lawyer employed by their relatives in their hometown, gave them the suggestion to get medic-legal expertise the sooner the better. But the cost of 4,000 yuan was far beyond their reach as they nearly spent all of the 3,000 yuan they brought from their hometown.

"Thanks to Zhigang's classmates," Sun Zhiguo picked out several pieces of paper with lines of donations but with few names on it.

According to Zhiguo, all together there were 18 students in Sun Zhigang's arts class of Wuhan University of Science and Technology. For the three times, they sent the total 8,000 yuan cash to tide over their most pressing needs. Due to this sum of money, Sun Zhigang's medic-legal expertise was completed.

In the following days, many people constantly called the Sun family and sent money. Whenever talking names like Professor Ai Xiaoming with Zhongshan University, Phoenix TV host Dou Wentao, poor Sun Liusong was always moved to tears.

"My family will never forget these strangers who gave their support," said Sun Liusong, the poor father.

The truth is out

They came to the medic-legal expertise center of Zhongshan University on April 3, Sun Bingwu, Zhigang's uncle recalled. Generally speaking, it takes about a month to get results of an autopsy, however, touched by Zhigang's sad story, doctor Liu Xiaoshan together with his colleagues worked hard to get the report half a month in advance.

The Sun family did have the right to doubt Zhigang's death. The report pointed out that Sun Zhigang died from frail cell tissue, through injuries and traumatic shock according to general analysis.

No fatal injuries could be found on the outside of Sun's body. But when the examiners made the first cut on his back hip, they found a blood trace under his skin, of about 60*50 centimeters size. In his lifetime, Sun was 1.74 meters tall, and quite strong. A blood trace of this size means that the trace area was about as large as all of his back.

In addition, the autopsy proved that there were no problems in Zhigang's inner organs. "The dreadful medical change was not found." The mass blood in Zhigang's back caused his death.

A change for the better

"No words could describe our thanks for those who helped us." Whenever reporters interviewed him, Sun Liusong, Sun Zhigang's father, always asked those reporters to express their thanks, especially Chen Feng and Wang Lei of the Nanfang City News.

Indeed, through more than one-month-long desperate appealing for justice, the Sun family had already made their mind to fight a protracted warfare. At that time, how eager they wanted to find a reporter who can speak out to uphold justice. But several newspapers they tried refused their request. Later, one of Zhigang's classmates who worked in the Supreme People's Court contacted the Nanfang City News and the latter agreed to report it. Finally on April 25, "Sun Zhigang was beaten to death" was exposed to the public, which attracted the attention from senior leaders at the central and provincial level.

May 11 is a new beginning for the Sun family. They were staying in a three-star hotel in Guangzhou. Leaders from Guangdong Province as well as the departments concerned went to visit them and expressed strong anger. They all promised that this case would be made clear no matter how difficult it was.

On May 18, Sun Zhigang's remains were cremated in Guangzhou.

From then on, things went very smoothly.

On June 9, 81 days after Zhigang's death, a total of 12 people guilty of beating the young man to death were identified, and received death penalties or terms of imprisonment ranging from three years to life from Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate People's Court.

"Now Zhigang can sleep well in the nether world, but it is still very painful whenever we think of him." Zhigang's father showed some of Shigang's personal effects: several collections of Zhigang's art works including drawings, cut papers, statues and embroidery. Opening fashion ads, Zhigang's father said in tears, "The cloths made of Zhigang's design are all sold out, a very good sale."

Sun Zhigang's file

Sun Zhigang, male, 27 years old, graduated from Wuhan University of Science and Technology in 2001. He first found a job in Shenzhen, then came to Guangzhou working in the Daqi Garment Co. Ltd February this year.

At around 10 pm March 17, Zhigang left his room as usual and went to an Internet bar. On the way local police held him because he did not have temporary residence permit.

In the following three days, he experienced three different places: Guangzhou Huangcunjie police station, Guangzhou Municipal Holding Center and Guangzhou Clinic for held vagrants and beggars. On March 20, Sun Zhigang died there.

(China.org.cn translated by Zheng Guihong, July 8, 2003)

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