The father of a mainland Chinese woman who splashed ink on a Xi Jinping poster in 2018 has died in prison, according to human rights activists and media reports. His body was said to be covered in bruises and wounds.

Photo: Screenshot.

Dong Yaoqiong earned the nickname “ink girl” after she live streamed herself splashing ink on a billboard featuring the Chinese leader in Shanghai in 2018, saying she “opposed Xi Jinping’s dictatorship and tyranny.”

She was later sent to psychiatric facility. Her father, Dong Jianbiao, fought for her release but was eventually arrested and sentenced to three years in prison.

Dong Yaoqiong. Photo: Safeguard Defenders.

Rights activist Chen Siming tweeted on Saturday saying he had received a call from a relative of Dong Yaoqiong, who said Dong Jianbiao had died in prison last Friday. He shared a photo of him wearing a yellow T-shirt and Dong Jianbiao in a grey down jacket with the post.

“The relative[s] saw his body in the morgue. His body was covered with wounds and there were signs of bleeding from his anus,” Chen wrote. He cited the relative saying authorities had demanded Dong’s body to be cremated within five days. He also said the family had not seen Dong Yaoqiong for more than two years and did not know where she was.

A short time later, Chen published another tweet saying he had been targeted by the police.

“Police just called me saying they are coming to find me. So quick! My phone has been tapped. I need to log out and turn off [my device].”

‘Abnormal’ death

The family of Dong Jianbiao suspected his death was “abnormal,” according to Radio Free Asia, who claimed to be in touch with one of his family members. RFA reported that Dong Jianbiao’s son – Dong Yaoqiong’s younger brother – was made by authorities to authorise the cremation, which took place on Saturday. Family members were required to hand over their phones before entering the cremation site.

Dong Jianbiao (right) appealed for help for his daughter Dong Yaoqiong with artist Hua Yong. Photo: Hua Yong, via Twitter.

The family originally planned to bury Dong’s ashes this Tuesday but was ordered by provincial authorities to do so before Monday, RFA said in its report. Roads leading to Dong’s residence were also blocked and multiple people were barred from paying respects at his house.

Daughter’s advocate

Dong Jianbiao, who was a miner from Zhuzhou, Hunan, was a strong advocate for his daughter since her arrest. He repeatedly demanded police to explain what crime his daughter had committed and disclose where she was being held.

Wen Donghai (left) and Dong Jianbiao (centre). Photo: Twitter.

He was sentenced to three years in jail for threatening to burn down the house of his ex-wife in 2021, after a dispute that arose from sending their daughter to the psychiatric facility, according to media reports.

Human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders said it was “believed but not yet verified” that Dong Jianbiao’s charge was picking quarrels and provoking troubles. The group in August also published a report on how dissidents are often sent to what it called “psychiatric prisons” – a tactic it said was used to detain opponents “without any due process” and “the victims [have] no rights.”

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.