SAN FRANCISCO (August 29, 2007) – Li Weihong (李卫红), one of China’s longest-serving prisoners arrested during the spring 1989 demonstrations, will be released from prison on November 11, 2007 following his fifth sentence reduction, The Dui Hua Foundation has learned from a reliable source in China.

Originally sentenced in 1989 to death with a two-year reprieve, Li is one of the last known prisoners serving a sentence for “hooliganism,” a crime, like counterrevolution, that no longer exists in China’s Criminal Code (the two crimes were removed effective October 1, 1997). Li was a 21-year-old worker at the Hunan Fire Fighting Equipment Factory in Changsha, Hunan Province when he became involved in organizing street protests that turned violent in April 1989.

“Li’s latest reduction took place earlier this year, probably around the time the sentence for the counterrevolutionary Hu Shigen was reduced,” said John Kamm, Dui Hua’s executive director. “Hundreds of prisoners like Li and Hu are still serving sentences for crimes that were removed from China’s criminal law nearly 10 years ago. The Chinese government should release them, something called for under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Li Weihong was detained on April 23, 1989 and formally arrested on April 30, 1989. After the suppression of the June 4 demonstrations in Beijing, Li was found guilty of hooliganism by the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court on June 22, 1989, and subsequently sentenced to death, suspended for two years. Six others tried with Li on charges of “beating, smashing, looting and burning” were convicted, sentenced to death, and executed shortly thereafter.

In 1992, the Hunan Province Higher People’s Court commuted Li’s death sentence and imposed a sentence of life imprisonment. Because of good behavior, the life sentence was reduced to a 17-year sentence on September 12, 1995 and set to expire on September 11, 2012, with subsequent deprivation of political rights for seven years. Since 1997, Li has received three additional sentence reductions—in 1997, 2001, and 2007—totaling four years and 10 months. He will be 40 years old when his sentence expires on November 11, 2007. Li has served his entire sentence in Hunan’s Chishan Prison, beginning on March 20, 1990.

For more than 15 years, Dui Hua has asked Chinese authorities for information on Li, the longest-serving prisoner known to Dui Hua who was convicted in the spring 1989 protests that culminated in the June 4 killings in Beijing. The recent communication about Li’s impending release was the first detailed information provided by a Chinese government source since he was sentenced in 1989. In the 1990s, Li figured prominently on prisoner lists submitted to Chinese authorities, but he is now rarely included on lists handed to Beijing by foreign governments.

The Dui Hua Foundation
San Francisco, California
August 29, 2007