SAN FRANCISCO (May 30, 2013) — China’s prison authorities have released the last individual known to be incarcerated in Beijing for “counterrevolutionary” crimes dating back to the June Fourth protests. Dui Hua believes that Jiang Yaqun (姜亚群) was released in October or November 2012, based on a notice posted online by the Jingshan Neighborhood Council (translated below). The 73-year-old suffers from Alzheimer’s and has no family or home to return to. His previous residence was sold in order to place his stepmother in a retirement home.
Detained in his late forties, Jiang was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve by the Beijing High People’s Court for counterrevolutionary sabotage on July 17, 1990. His sentence was commuted to life in prison and further reduced on five occasions, but the details of his case are unknown. Diagnosed with “mild mental retardation,” Jiang was transferred in 1993 to Yanqing Prison, which has a special ward for elderly, weak, ill, and disabled prisoners.
With Jiang’s release, Dui Hua believes less than a handful of people remain in prison for crimes committed during the “two disturbances,” i.e., the mostly student-led protests against corruption, inflation, and other social issues that grew in Beijing—where martial law was declared—and other cities following the death of reformist leader Hu Yaobang in the spring of 1989. Dui Hua knows of only one individual serving a prison sentence in Beijing. Miao Deshun (苗德顺), now 49, was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve by the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court for arson on October 26, 1989. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on December 21, 1991. Miao spent time in solitary confinement in 1997 for self-mutilation. His sentence was reduced to 20 years in September 1998. Dui Hua has not received information on Miao since September 2009—six years after he was relocated to Yanqing Prison for mental illness.
Nationwide, a total of 1,602 people were imprisoned during the two disturbances for counterrevolution, which was removed from the Criminal Law in 1997, and other crimes—including hooliganism, now defunct but retained in nebulous spirit in the crime of “creating a serious disturbance”; arson; sabotaging transport equipment and infrastructure; and other violent acts—according to information in the Hunan Province Public Security Records. Last year, Dui Hua estimated that less than a dozen of those incarcerated remained in prison. Most two-disturbances prisoners are believed to have been released before the expiration of their original sentences.
Of those imprisoned for two-disturbances offenses, Dui Hua has records on more than 700 people, including 260 counterrevolutionaries. Due to limited available information, Dui Hua cannot confirm whether individuals other than Miao remain in prison or other carceral institutions—at least one person was previously confirmed to have been placed in a police-run psychiatric hospital. However, since some two-disturbances prisoners resumed their activism after their release, several are now serving sentences as “recidivists.” They include Chen Xi (陈西), a Guizhou Human Rights Symposium member who was sentenced in December 2011 to 10 years’ imprisonment for inciting subversion, and Li Bifeng (李必丰), a poet sentenced in November 2012 to 12 years’ imprisonment for highly contested allegations of “economic fraud.”
Translation of notice posted by Jingshan Neighborhood Council:
Visiting Yanqing Prison to Give Help and Education to Targeted Person Jiang Yaqun
Regarding the issues raised [following information] provided by Yanqing Prison in September that it will soon release targeted person Jiang Yaqun—age 73, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, without family to receive him, and unable to live independently—the Jingshan Justice Office attaches great importance [to the matter] and immediately began work, assisted by the local police station, to investigate his family situation and find information on his brothers and sisters. His former place of residence has already been sold by his younger sister in order to pay for [their] 92-year-old stepmother to live in a retirement home. With the energetic assistance of the Jiaodaokou Justice Office, face-to-face communication was conducted with his younger sister and the situation of [Yang’s] former place of residence and brothers and sisters was ascertained.
In order to successfully carry out the security work outlined during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, it is necessary to guarantee that proper arrangements can be made for the resettlement [of former prisoners] after leaving prison. On the morning of October 10, [Dongcheng] District Justice Bureau Deputy Bureau Chief Wang Peiru led a team composed of the Corrections Unit and the Jingshan Justice Office to go to Yanqing Prison to carry out help and education for “three withouts” [i.e., without family, a job, or source of income to rely on—Trans.] person Jiang Yaqun and consult and explore how to implement resettlement after [his] release from prison. The seven people who went to the prison included Dongcheng Justice Bureau Acting Deputy Bureau Chief Lan Yanchang and Jingshan stationed Dongcheng District People’s Court Judge Ji Guangsheng.