Former 1989 Pro-Democracy Figures Currently Incarcerated for Continued Human Rights ActivismComments Off on Former 1989 Pro-Democracy Figures Currently Incarcerated for Continued Human Rights Activism
Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, CHRD has documented 19 cases involving 1989 protests leaders and participants who are currently detained or imprisoned in China for post-Tiananmen human rights activism. In further incomplete figures, we have found 3 individuals have been persecuted to death, and 6 former 1989 pro-democracy figures have recently been released from prison.
These individuals played leadership roles or joined the protests in 1989 as young students, professors, journalists, writers, or factory workers. Some had served prison terms for their role in the movement and resumed their democracy and human rights activities after being released. Punishments for former 1989 participants are often harsher than for other prisoners, as authorities treat them as “recidivists” with “political motivation” to challenge the legitimacy of the one-party-ruled authoritarian state
While this list is incomplete, it reflects the ongoing suppression on the 1989 generation and on human rights defenders in China who have continued the struggle for human rights, rule of law and democractic reforms.
16 – Serving prison sentences (in chronological order of imprisonment):
• China Democracy Party member Xie Changfa (谢长发), from Hunan, has been serving a 13-year sentence since 2009 for his work with the political party. He spent two years in a Re-education through Labor camp for supporting the 1989 movement.
• China Democracy Party member Liu Xianbin (刘贤斌) of Sichuan has been serving a 10-year sentence since 2011 for his human rights advocacy. He served 30 months in prison for participating in the 1989 movement.
• Sichuan activist Chen Wei (陈卫) has been serving a nine-year sentence since 2011 for his human rights activism. A student in 1989, Chen was imprisoned after June Fourth and released in 1991.
• Guizhou-based activist Chen Xi (陈西) has been serving a 10-year sentence since 2011 for his human rights advocacy. He served a three-year sentence for participating in the 1989 movement.
• Poet Li Bifeng (李必丰) of Sichuan has been serving a 10-year sentence since 2012 for his human rights activism. He served five years in prison for his role in the 1989 movement.
• Xinjiang activist Zhao Haitong (赵海通) has been serving a 14-year sentence since 2014 for his activities as a human rights defender. He was jailed in the aftermath of the 1989 massacre.
• Guangdong activist Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄) has been serving a six-year sentence since 2015 for his human rights activism. Guo took part in the 1989 movement as a student in Shanghai.
• Buddhist monk Wu Zeheng (吴泽衡) has been serving a life sentence since 2015 for the exercise of his freedom of religion. A student leader in 1989, Wu was convicted in Guangdong and now is reportedly serving his sentence in Xinjiang.
• Buddhist monk Sheng Guan (圣观, aka Xu Zhiqiang, 徐志强) has been serving a four-year sentence since 2016 for exercising his rights to free expression and assembly. Xu was jailed for a year for participating in the 1989 movement while studying in Xi’an.
• China Democracy Party member Chen Shuqing (陈树庆) of Hangzhou has been serving a 10.5-year since 2016 for his pro-democracy advocacy. In 1989, Chen participated in the movement as a university student.
• China Democracy Party member Lü Gengsong (吕耿松) has been serving an 11-year sentence since 2016 for his pro-democracy advocacy. Lü was a teacher in Hangzhou who was dismissed in 1993 for supporting the democracy movement.
• Beijing-based activist Hu Shigen (胡石根) has been serving a 7.5-year sentence since 2016 for his advocacy campaigns around legal cases. Hu was a teacher at Beijing Language and Culture School in 1989 and later served 16 years of a 20-year prison sentence, handed down in part for trying to share information on the 1989 movement.
• Beijing-based lawyer Xia Lin (夏霖) has been serving a 10-year sentence (reduced on appeal) since 2016 for his professional work as a lawyer. Xia participated in the 1989 movement as a student at the Southwest Institute of Political Science and Law in Chongqing.
• Guangdong labor rights activist Liu Shaoming (刘少明) has been serving a 4.5 year sentence since July 2017 for writing online articles about the 1989 movement. Liu was jailed for a year after taking part in the demonstrations in 1989.
• Chongqing activist Jiang Yefei (姜野飞) has been serving a 6.5 year sentence since July 2018 for “subversion of state power” and “organizing others to illegally cross borders” after he was deported from Thailand in November 2015, and despite obtaining UN refugee status. He participated in the 1989 movement as a student.
• Sichuan activist Chen Bing (陈兵) has been serving a 3.5 year sentence since April 2019 for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for helping to produce and promote wine bottles that alluded to remembering June Fourth. Chen was a student in Nanchong City, Sichuan and participated in the 1989 movement. He is the twin brother of Chen Wei (above).
1- In Pre-Trial Detention:
• Activist Zhou Yongjun (周勇军) was arrested by Guangxi police on September 26, 2018 on charges of “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law” after police stopped Zhou for questioning on August 19, 2018 when he came for tourism and detained him when they found Falun Gong materials in his bag. Zhou’s lawyer learnt in January 2019 that the charges were changed to “inciting subversion of state power” on an unknown date, and police have already recommended indictment. A prominent student leader in 1989, Zhou served two years in prison as result, and served a nine-year prison handed down in 2010 after being detained in Hong Kong and secretly transferred to the Mainland. He was released early from that sentence in December 2015.
2 – Convicted and serving time outside jail or suspended sentence:
• Veteran journalist Gao Yu (高瑜) is serving a five-year sentence outside of prison in Beijing after receiving medical parole in November 2015. She had originally received a seven-year sentence in April 2015 for advocating for press freedom but the sentence was reduced on appeal in November 2015. Gao joined the 1989 protests and wrote critical articles about the government’s suppression. She was subsequently detained twice and served six years in prison.
• Beijing-based activist Zhai Yanmin (翟岩民) received a three-year suspended sentence in August 2016 in the “709 Crackdown” on human rights lawyers and their supporters. He must wear an electronic tracking device and his freedom of movement and communications are severely restricted. He can be sent to prison if authorities deem that he has committed any criminal offenses during the period when his punishment is suspended. Zhai had participated in the 1989 movement as a student.
6 – Recently Released from Lengthy Prison Sentences:
• Sichuan activist Chen Yunfei (陈云飞) served a four-year sentence from 2015-2019, in part for organizing a memorial to June Fourth victims. Chen participated in the 1989 movement as a student at the China Agricultural University in Beijing.
• Activist Tang Jingling (唐荆陵) of Guangdong served a five-year sentence from 2014 to 2019 for his activism. Tang participated in the 1989 movement as a student.
• Writer Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫) of Hangzhou served a seven-year sentence from 2012 to 2018 for his democracy and human rights advocacy. He took part in the 1989 movement while working in Hangzhou.
• Beijing-based human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) received a three-year suspended sentence in December 2015 and was stripped of his law license as a result of his conviction. Under the terms of his sentence, he had to submit to supervision, report his activities to police, and faced the possibility of being sent to prison. He was released from probation in 2018. Pu was a student leader in 1989 and took part in the hunger strike in Tiananmen Square.
• Activist Zhao Changqing (赵常青) served a 2.5-year sentence most recently, between 2013-2015, on charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place.” Zhao was a student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen protests, a role for which he was imprisoned for four months. He was later jailed two more times for his democracy activities (in 1997 and 2002) on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,” for three and five years, respectively.
• Activist Zhang Lin (张林) served a 3.5-year prison sentence most recently between 2013-2016 on charges of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place.” Zhang upported and participated in the 1989 pro-democracy movement and was sentenced to two years in prison. After his release, he spent a total of six years in Re-education through Labor camps, and another four years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” for his continued activism.
3 – Persecuted to death:
• Jiangsu writer Yang Tongyan (杨同彦) died in November 2017 from brain cancer. He had only been granted medical parole in August 2017, weeks before his death, despite his family’s years-long efforts to secure his release for medical treatment. Yang had been serving a 12-year sentence handed down in 2006 for his political activism. He was jailed for 10 years for participating in the 1989 movement.
• Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) died in July 2017 from liver cancer. He been granted medical parole just weeks before his death. Liu had been serving an 11-year sentence since 2009 for his leading role in the “Charter 08” campaign. A university lecturer in 1989, he was jailed for 18 months for taking part in the 1989 movement.
• Labor activist Li Wangyang (李旺阳) died under suspicious circumstances on June 6, 2012 while in a hospital under police surveillance in Shaoyang, Hunan. Li, a labor leader in the 1989 democracy movement, was sentenced to a total of 23 years in prison. Chinese authorities claimed that Li committed suicide by hanging himself in his hospital room, a claim his family disputed as Li was blind and deaf from torture and would not have been physically capable of hanging himself. Against the wishes of Li’s family, Hunan authorities conducted their own autopsy and then cremated his body.