Dui Hua has learned of sentence reductions granted in the summer of 2008 to individuals imprisoned in Chongqing Municipality. Although the general sense is that there was widespread tightening-up by law enforcement in the run-up to last year’s Beijing Olympics, it appears there were at least limited acts of clemency toward prisoners taking place at the same time.
Reductions to Lengthy State Security Sentences
In August 2008, veteran political activist Xu Wanping (许万平) was granted a one-year sentence reduction. Xu was sentenced to 12 years in prison in December 2005 for subversion. Earlier, he spent eight years behind bars for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement” after the pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989, and he was incarcerated for three years of “reeducation-through-labor” from 1998 to 2001 following his attempt to organize a local branch of the China Democracy Party. With this record of political crime, Xu was clearly targeted for surveillance by Chongqing’s political security police, who monitored his Internet activity and bank transactions in order to track his efforts to publicize injustices and distribute funds for jailed activists’ families.
This news of a sentence reduction for Xu Wanping comes amid recent unofficial reports that he is suffering from spleen problems and general ill-health and has petitioned officials at Chongqing’s Yuzhou Prison for medical parole. He is currently due for release on April 29, 2016.
Also in August, a Chongqing court granted a one-year sentence reduction to alleged spy Xu Jianchi (许剑池). Xu (no relation to Xu Wanping) was originally sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment in 2003 for espionage and procuring state secrets for foreign entities. Chinese authorities allege that Xu received training from Taiwanese intelligence agencies, gathered secret political and military intelligence, and sent inquiries to the US embassy in Bangkok about providing similar intelligence to the US government.
Xu Jianchi has received two one-year sentence reductions since being transferred to Yuzhou Prison in August 2006, and is now due for release on October 14, 2018.
Multiple Reductions in Falun Gong Case
The same response revealed that three Falun Gong practitioners incarcerated in Chongqing Prison also received sentence reductions in June 2008. Chen Shumin (陈庶民) and Li Jian (黎坚) each received 18-month reductions, and Lu Zhengqi (卢正奇) was granted a one-year reduction.
The three men were part of a group of five imprisoned in February 2004 for “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law” after disseminating reports that a 28-year-old female graduate student from Chongqing University named Wei Xingyan had been raped by a police officer while being detained for Falun Gong activities. The court called the allegations “deliberate exaggerations” and “manufactured rumors” and reported that it could find no record of Wei at the school. Chen, Li, and Lu were sentenced to prison terms of 14, 13, and 10 years, respectively.
Before these latest reductions, Chen, Li, and Lu had each received sentence reductions ranging from 12 to 17 months. Chen is now scheduled for release in October 2014, Li is due for release in January 2014, and Lu is set to be released from prison in September 2011.
Sentencing Oddity Sentencing Oddity
Response Suggests Prisoner Incarcerated Over Three Years for One-Year Sentence
In 2006, Dui Hua uncovered the case of Gong Xianzhi (龚先智), detained in 1999 by police in Bazhong City in Sichuan and subsequently charged with “inciting subversion” for sending overseas broadcasters numerous letters that exposed local corruption and criticized government policies. After several inquiries, Dui Hua was recently informed by a reliable source in China that Gong had been sentenced to a year of imprisonment and “released on December 20, 2002.” The source did not explain why, if Gong was detained in 1999, he apparently remained incarcerated for at least three years.