SAN FRANCISCO, CA (May 2, 2016)—Dui Hua has learned that Miao Deshun (苗德顺), the last known prisoner still serving a sentence for offenses committed during the June 1989 disturbances in Beijing, has been granted an 11-month sentence reduction. He is now due to be released from Beijing’s Yanqing Prison on October 15, 2016.
Miao, a worker from Hebei Province, was 25 years old when he was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve for the crime of arson by the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court on August 7, 1989. Miao and four coworkers allegedly threw a basket onto a burning tank. Miao did not appeal his sentence.
As with nearly all sentences of death with two-year reprieve, Miao’s sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1991. His life sentence was reduced to 20 years in 1998. On June 12, 2012, Miao was given a one-year sentence reduction. On March 7, 2016, after receiving a citation for good behavior, Miao’s sentence was reduced again, this time by 11 months, by the Beijing Number One Intermediate People’s Court. The court also reduced his supplemental sentence of eight years’ deprivation of political rights by one year.
Miao has had no contact with the outside world for many years. People who served sentences with him in the 1990s remember him as a very thin man who refused to admit wrongdoing and participate in prison labor. He is said to have spent time in solitary confinement. Miao suffers from hepatitis B and schizophrenia. He was transferred in 2003 to Yanqing Prison, which has a ward for sick, elderly, and disabled prisoners. Miao’s family stopped visiting him more than ten years ago, reportedly at Miao’s request.
Dui Hua has worked tirelessly on Miao’s case, putting his name on 17 prisoner lists submitted to the Chinese government since 2005. In February 2015, Dui Hua’s executive director John Kamm was told by a Chinese official that Miao had been given a one-year sentence reduction in 2012. In late January 2016, Kamm submitted another request for an update on Miao’s situation. The 51 year-old former worker was given an 11-month reduction six weeks later.
According to an account published in a provincial record, 1,602 people were sentenced to prison nationwide for what they did during the 1989 disturbances. (Many more were held in detention centers for long periods, or sentenced to re-education through labor.) Dui Hua’s Political Prisoner Database has records on about half of those sentenced to prison. The foundation continues to seek information on individuals who were sentenced to death with two-year reprieve who remain unaccounted for. On a recent visit to a university library, Dui Hua researchers found information on several June 4 prisoners whose names were previously unknown. (All have been released.) As of today, Miao Deshun is the only Tiananmen prisoner known to Dui Hua to still be in prison.
“Miao Deshun, the last known prisoner serving a sentence for a crime committed during the June 1989 disturbances in Beijing, is due to be released from Yanqing Prison in less than six months,” said John Kamm, Executive Director of The Dui Hua Foundation. “We welcome this news, and express the hope that he will receive the care he needs to resume a normal life after spending more than half of it behind bars.”