Nineteen Years on, Tiananmen Protesters Still Languish in Prison

Comments Off on Nineteen Years on, Tiananmen Protesters Still Languish in Prison

Nineteen Years on, Tiananmen Protesters Still Languish in Prison China must end political persecution of participants of the 1989 demonstrations

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, June 3, 2008) – As the 19th anniversary of the crackdown on the Tiananmen demonstrations approaches, at least eight Beijing residents are still imprisoned for participating in pro-democracy protests in 1989. In addition, about a dozen Beijing activists have been intimidated, monitored or put under house arrest ahead of the anniversary.

Tiananmen Prisoners

The cases of these “Tiananmen prisoners” have been documented by international human rights groups, along with thousands of others imprisoned since 1989, but the fact that they remain in jail today, along with unknown others, is not widely known and has not been acknowledged by the Chinese government. On the contrary, the government has vehemently denied that China has any political prisoners in its jails today. Authorities justified the long imprisonments of the protesters by accusing them of “violent” crimes such as killing soldiers, burning army trucks, or overturning armored tanks.

(a) Two Beijing residents serving suspended death sentences:

  1. Li Yujun (李玉君), male, convicted of “counter-revolutionary destruction”, now imprisoned at Beijing No. 2 Prison
  2. Zhu Gengsheng (朱更生), male, convicted of “counter-revolutionary destruction,” now imprisoned at Beijing No. 2 Prison

(b) Six Beijing residents serving life terms:

  1. Shi Xuezhi (石学之), male, convicted of “arson”, deprived of political rights for the rest of his life, at Yanqing Prison (延庆监狱)
  2. Li Zhixin (李志欣), male, convicted of “counter-revolutionary destruction and arson”, at Beijing No. 2 Prison
  3. Chang Jingqiang (常景强), male, convicted of “counter-revolutionary assault,” at Beijing No. 2 Prison
  4. Wu Chunqi (武春启), male, convicted of “counter-revolutionary destruction and arson”, at Beijing No. 2 Prison
  5. Yang Pu (杨 朴), male, convicted of “counter-revolutionary destruction”, originally sentenced to suspended death sentence and later to life term, at Tianjin Chadian Prison (天津茶淀监狱).
  6. Miao Deshun (苗德顺), male, convicted of “counter-revolutionary destruction”, at Yanqing Prison.

In recent years, under international pressure, China has released some 1989 prisoners. However, even those released continue to face restrictions such as “deprivation of political rights,” which in the Chinese context includes restrictions on freedom of movement, bans on writing articles and accepting interviews, and subjection to police surveillance.

Three residents of Beijing known to have been released in 2006 but still under deprivation of political rights:

  1. Dong Shengkun (董 盛坤), male, suspended death sentence, imprisoned at the Beijing No. 2 Prison, and released on September 5, 2006, with deprivation of political rights for eight years. Prior to 1989, Dong had served in the People’s Liberation Army. As a veteran, he was ashamed of and outraged by the army’s slaughter of civilians during the crackdown on Tiananmen protests and joined the burning of an army truck, for which he served 17 years in jail.
  2. Zhang Maosheng (张 茂盛), male, suspended death sentence, imprisoned at the Beijing No. 2 Prison, and released on September 13, 2006, with deprivation of political rights for five years.
  3. Sun Chuanheng (孙 传恒), male, sentenced to life, imprisoned at the Beijing No. 2 Prison, and released in the spring of 2006, with deprivation of political rights for five years.

CHRD has also confirmed that the Beijing residents listed below were swiftly sentenced to death and immediately executed within weeks after they were arrested following the bloody crackdown on June 3 and 4, 1989:

Lin Zaorong (林昭荣)
Zhang Wenkui (张文奎)
Chen Jian (陈坚)
Zu Jianjun (祖建军)
Wang Hanwu (王汉武)
Luo Hongjun (罗红军)
Ban Huijie (班会杰)
Xu Guoming (徐国明)
Bian Hanwu (卞汉武)
Yan Xuerong (严雪荣)

Beijing Activists Intimidated, Monitored or Put under House Arrest

Since May 23, Qi Zhiyong ( 齐志勇), Beijing activist who was shot during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and left disabled, has been under intermittent house arrest. Between May 23 and 28, and again on May 31, about four/five Beijing policemen stationed at his home. On June 1, when police learned that journalists were coming to interview Qi, they took him away to a Beijing suburb. Qi was sent home on June 2 and continues to be under house arrest.

On May 30 and June 1, several Beijing-based independent writers/scholars including Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), Jiang Qisheng (江棋生), Yu Haocheng (于浩成) and Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦)were questioned for hours by the police from the National Security Unit of Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) about the commemorative articles they wrote on a new website, Tiananmen Mothers ( They were warned against writing articles about the 1989 massacre or the Olympics. At least a dozen other Beijing activists have been warned by the National Security police and/or put under ‘residential surveillance’1 (监视居住). Since June 2, Beijing-based lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) has been warned to stay away from the Tiananmen Square and closely watched and followed by police. Qi vowed to commemorate those killed in Tiananmen Square every June 3 and had done so since 1989 (‘June Fourth’ Seventeen Years Later: How I Kept a Promise).

Beijing police are also nervously watching the “Tiananmen Mothers”–families of those killed during the Tiananmen massacre. Authorities are worried that the Tiananmen Mothers would gather for commemoration along Chang An Avenue, a main road bordering the Square where the killings took place.


Chinese Human Rights Defenders reiterates its demands that

  • the Chinese government allow an open and independent investigation of the Tiananmen massacre and of allegations of torture and wrongful imprisonment;
  • where there is corroborated evidence that people engaged in violent acts, their sentences be reviewed and early release considered, given the circumstances at the time;
  • any officials responsible for ordering the executions, torture, wrongful convictions and for ordering that troops shoot or otherwise kill innocent people acting non-violently be held accountable for their crimes;
  • the authorities engage in dialogue with and compensate those who were punished, disabled or killed for participating in the protests as well as their families.
  • people imprisoned for merely engaging in peaceful protests or acts of self-defense be immediately released and compensated for personal damage;

For more information, please contact

1‘Residential Surveillance’ refers to the practice by Chinese police where police and their vehicles are stationed outside the monitored individuals’ home or workplace and when the individuals go out, they maybe stopped, followed or forced to travel in police vehicles.

  • Back to Top