SAN FRANCISCO (May 12, 2009) – Based on newly obtained information, The Dui Hua Foundation now estimates that approximately 30 individuals are still serving sentences for offenses committed during the protests that took place in China in the spring of 1989. Dui Hua hopes the Chinese government will commute the sentences of these last remaining June Fourth prisoners.
Dui Hua previously estimated that 50 to 60 June Fourth prisoners remained incarcerated; two important developments have informed Dui Hua’s revised estimation. First, over the past several months the Chinese government informed the foundation of the early release of several long-serving June Fourth prisoners, including Wei Yingchun in Shanghai, Zhang You in Sichuan, and Shi Xuezhi and Li Zhixin in Beijing. Peng Jiamin, the last-known June Fourth prisoner in Shanghai, is due for release on May 21, and Wu Chunmin’s sentence is set to expire on June 23.
Second, late last month the popular Chinese language news and opinion website Boxun published a detailed list of 104 individuals incarcerated in Beijing Number Two Prison for crimes allegedly committed during the riots that broke out in Beijing in the spring of 1989. The list was originally compiled in 1994 by activist and Charter 08 signatory Li Hai, an act that led to his own incarceration from 1995 to 2004. Of the 104 prisoners appearing on the list, all but six have been released, according to research done by human rights campaigners such as Sun Liyong, a former June Fourth prisoner freed in 1998.
The ten remaining June Fourth prisoners Dui Hua knows to be incarcerated are listed in the accompanying chart. This list is based on information provided by the Chinese government that has confirmed these prisoners’ incarceration. Dui Hua also has dated or incomplete information on another nine named June Fourth prisoners believed to be incarcerated, and estimates that there are roughly a dozen more June Fourth prisoners whose names remain unknown to us. Dui Hua continues to conduct research into the events of the spring of 1989 and occasionally turns up names of individuals arrested and, in some cases, convicted for June Fourth-related crimes whose fates remain unknown.
Most of those still imprisoned in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, and Hunan were young workers at the time of the disturbances. This group suffered the most casualties when troops opened fire, and some of these workers responded by setting fires and fighting against police and military forces. Those arrested and convicted were given sentences of either death with two-year reprieve or life imprisonment for crimes such as counterrevolutionary sabotage, hooliganism, and arson. (Counterrevolution and hooliganism were removed from China’s criminal law in 1997.)
“Today, most of these prisoners are middle-aged men who have benefited from several sentence reductions as testimony to their good behavior,” said John Kamm, Dui Hua’s executive director. “Releasing them would be broadly welcomed in China and around the world. Dui Hua looks forward to the day when the Chinese government will provide a full accounting of those detained for offenses committed during the 1989 protests.”
The Dui Hua Foundation
San Francisco, California
May 12, 2009