SAN FRANCISCO (January 13, 2009) – The Winter 2009 issue of Dui Hua’s Dialogue newsletter has just been published. Its lead story focuses on the proposal that the Chinese government declare a special pardon of long-serving prisoners on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. The proposal is currently being debated in China.
Dui Hua’s executive director, John Kamm, pointed to the historical precedent of a special pardon issued to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the PRC in 1959. “The 10th anniversary pardon benefited approximately 70,000 prisoners who had served most of their sentences, had demonstrated good behavior, and who no longer posed a threat to society. Many were counterrevolutionaries,” noted Kamm.
In addition to the precedent established by the 1959 special pardon, the newsletter’s lead article examines the rationale for a 60th anniversary pardon. “Such a step would conform to Chinese tradition and be consistent with international practice,” said Kamm. “It would promote a harmonious society and make economic sense as well, resulting in major savings at a time when the Chinese government, like all governments, is looking for ways to cut costs.” Among the roughly 80,000 prisoners who could be released by a special pardon scaled to the 1959 pardon would be most if not all of the remaining prisoners serving sentences for counterrevolution and offenses from the spring 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations.
“Dui Hua will make promoting the idea of a 60th anniversary special pardon a priority of its human rights work in 2009,” said Kamm.
Continuing its focus on pardons, the newsletter reviews the often controversial system of presidential pardons in the United States. Also covered are the likely shape of President-elect Barack Obama’s human rights policy toward China, a review of recently published statistics on endangering state security, and recently obtained information on sentence reductions and early releases of prisoners in Sichuan Province.
Dui Hua’s Winter 2009 newsletter can be read as DIALOGUE, which is only available at www.duihua.org.
The Dui Hua Foundation
San Francisco, California
January 13, 2009