SAN FRANCISCO (May 31, 2012) — Based on the most current information from government and non-government sources, Dui Hua estimates that less than a dozen people remain in prison for participating in the protests that spread across China in the spring of 1989 (hereafter, “June Fourth prisoners”)—an estimate that a source in the Chinese government confirmed earlier this month. Thousands are believed to have been detained. According to a recently discovered official account published by the Hunan provincial government, a total of 1,602 individuals were convicted and sentenced to prison for their activities during the spring 1989 protests in Beijing and elsewhere in China.

Dui Hua continues to raise the names of June Fourth prisoners with the Chinese government both directly and through foreign governments conducting bilateral human rights dialogues with China. While receiving information on other cases, Dui Hua has not received a Chinese government response regarding individual June Fourth prisoners since September 2009. Dui Hua has the names of two people who it believes likely remain in prison and five people who may still be incarcerated. Official and unofficial information indicates that remaining and recently released June Fourth prisoners are grappling with mental illness.

Dui Hua believes that Jiang Yaqun (姜亚群), age 73, and Miao Deshun (苗德顺), 48, likely remain in Beijing’s Yanqing Prison, which specializes in incarcerating people who are “elderly, weak, ill, and disabled.” A Chinese government response from September 2009 states that Jiang and Miao were transferred to Yanqing Prison for mental illness in 1993 and 2003, respectively.

Convicted of “counterrevolutionary sabotage,” Jiang may be the last June Fourth “counterrevolutionary” still in prison—the crime of counterrevolution was removed from China’s Criminal Law in 1997, the year that “endangering state security” crimes were codified. Jiang’s sentence of death with two-year reprieve was commuted to life imprisonment in 1992 and to 19.5 years in 1995. Having received three additional sentence reductions, Jiang is scheduled for release on October 23, 2013.

Miao was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve for the crime of “arson.” His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1991 and reduced to 20 years in 1998; he did not receive any sentence reductions between 1998 and the time of the last government response in September 2009. That response said Miao was temporarily placed in solitary confinement in 1997 for self-mutilation. Because China does not offer credit for time served before a life sentence is commuted, Miao is not scheduled for release until September 15, 2018.

Since the Chinese government provided information about their cases in September 2009, Dui Hua has raised the names of Jiang and Miao through official channels on several occasions.

Dui Hua’s Political Prisoner Database lists the names of five other June Fourth prisoners who may still be incarcerated. They are:

Last Known Information
Last Government Response (date)
Chen Yong
Sentenced to life imprisonment for “counterrevolutionary assault,” incarcerated in Beijing’s Qincheng Prison
“Beijing Prison System does not have a record for Chen Yong” (2009)
Luan Jikui
Sentenced to death with two-year reprieve for “arson,” later commuted to life imprisonment, incarcerated in Beijing’s Qincheng Prison
“Beijing Prison System does not have a record for … Luan Jikui” (2009)
Deng Wenbin
Sentenced to death with two-year reprieve, later commuted to life imprisonment, incarcerated in Hubei
[No response given]
Sun Guanghu
Sentenced to life imprisonment, incarcerated in Shaanxi
“No record found” (2009)
Yu Rong
Detained for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement,” incarcerated in Shanghai
“In 1990, [Yu was] verified to have mental illness and was sent to an ankang hospital* for treatment, [he] was not sentenced to imprisonment.” (2006)

*Ankang (安康) hospitals are psychiatric hospitals run by the public security system.

“Twenty-three years later, the number of people in prison for their participation in the June Fourth protests has gotten smaller,” said Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm. “We look forward to the day when all people convicted for their actions during the spring 1989 protests are free.”

Li Yujun (李玉君) was released earlier this month. Chinese government responses to prisoner inquiries indicate that Li was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve for “arson” in 1989. He allegedly set fire to a military vehicle in resistance to the military occupation of Beijing. As is usually the case with sentences of death with two-year reprieve, Li’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1993. After his sentence was commuted to a fixed term of 20 years on November 11, 1996, he received seven additional sentence reductions for good behavior and was released from Beijing Number Two Prison in early May 2012.

Li’s release means that he will begin eight years of deprivation of political rights, a sentence which entails surveillance and bars individuals from giving interviews, publishing articles, and voting. Born in the 1960’s, Li reportedly suffers from mental illness.