The year 2009 has been one of important anniversaries in China, some condemned on human rights grounds, like the suppression of the pro-democracy protests in Beijing and other cities in 1989 and the crackdown on the Tibetan uprising fifty years ago. On October 1, Beijing celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic with displays of military might and fireworks, but not with a special pardon of long-serving prisoners as many inside and outside China had hoped for.
Dui Hua regularly reports on sentence reductions and early releases for prisoners in China. In the United States, these types of sentence modifications fall under the broad category of parole. There are currently about 800,000 Americans released on parole in communities across the country. How does this system work, and how is it that this population has become so large?
Dui Hua has recently obtained information from governmental and non-governmental sources on nine political prisoners convicted of crimes for their participation in protests that erupted in Beijing on June 4, 1989. On that day, troops were ordered into the city to impose martial law and end the more than six weeks of peaceful anti-government demonstrations that had been taking place. Five of these June Fourth prisoners remain incarcerated today, and several are suffering from serious physical or psychological conditions that led to their transfer to Yanqing Prison, Beijing’s special facility for the “old, sick, and infirm.”
While China’s leaders did not issue a national special pardon to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, thousands of prisoners benefited from provincial-level acts of clemency that coincided with National Day celebrations around the country.
Dui Hua welcomes Michael McCune to board; Washington trip includes testimony on China’s human rights, program meetings; Dui Hua moves Hong Kong office, bids farewell to staff member Flora Lee.