Chinese authorities have severely beaten a man for commemorating the death of a former Communist Party leader who was ousted for supporting the nation’s freedom fighters, reported Radio Free Asia.

According to the report, the Beijing man was beaten to within an inch of his life by several policeman after he was spotted wearing a white flower, indicating he was mourning for Zhao Ziyang.

The former Communist Party general secretary was placed under house arrest after supporting the efforts of the pro-freedom demonstrators of Tiananmen Square in 1989. Zhao died Jan. 17 at the age of 85.

The beaten man was seen wearing the flower as he waited at the complaints office of the National People’s Congress last week, where hundreds of people line up daily seeking redress for grievances against the government, the radio network reported.

“We saw him after they’d beaten him,” a bystander at the complaints office told RFA’s Mandarin service. “His eye was hanging out of its socket. But no one did anything. … There were dozens of them beating a single guy,” said the man, surnamed Yang, from the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Police and armed forces had been warned to halt any public displays of mourning around Zhao’s house, and police and security were reinforced around several of Beijing’s universities, sources told RFA.

Reportedly, hundreds of Chinese have been arrested after visiting Zhao’s house to pay their respects.

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