Responses in This Quarter
Overall in this quarter, Dui Hua received six responses from interlocutors on the whereabouts of and clemency for 26 prisoners convicted of endangering state security crimes (ESS), “organizing/using a cult to undermine implementation of the law,” and other crimes. One government response Dui Hua received in July concerned 18 Tianjin prisoners. Apart from confirming the release dates and places of incarceration for these prisoners, most of whom are Falun Gong practitioners, the July response also contained news on two well-known political prisoners. The first, Zhou Shifeng (周世峰) is due for release on September 24, 2022. Zhou, a founder of the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm who was detained during the “709 crackdown” in 2015, was convicted of subversion and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment by the Tianjin Number Two Intermediate People’s Court on August 4, 2016. The same response confirmed that veteran dissident Hu Shigen (胡石根) will complete his seven years and six months’ sentence for subversion on March 26, 2023.The remaining two prisoners on the list were sentenced for ESS crimes and commemorating June 4, respectively.
Xi Jinping ordered his second special pardon to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Eligible prisoners included those aged 75 or above with serious physical disabilities who are unable to take care of themselves. Dui Hua submitted a list of five elderly and sick prisoners serving their sentences in Guangdong to its interlocutors, and inquired about their eligibility for the special pardon. In September 2019, Dui Hua received an official response confirming that none of the five prisoners Dui Hua inquired about had benefited from the special pardons. Yao Wentian (姚文田) is a 79-year-old publisher from Hong Kong convicted of smuggling ordinary goods and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment by the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court on May 7, 2014. Despite his advanced age and poor health, Yao is not considered eligible. Dui Hua, however, was advised that Yao was given an eight-month sentence reduction in April 2019. Yao is scheduled for release from Dongguan Prison in 2023.
The remainder of the response on special pardons for elderly prisoners are Falun Gong practitioners, Chen Le’an (陈乐安), Zheng Shuqiong (郑淑琼), and Lin Jinlan (林金兰). All of them are women over 75 years old, and received relatively short prison sentences from 24-42 months. Despite their ages and short sentences, they were not granted special pardons. As of September 12, 15,858 prisoners were granted special pardons by courts nationwide. The response to Dui Hua, however, indicates that political and religious prisoners did not receive special pardons because they were deemed dangerous to the political security of the government.
Espionage Case of a Macau Resident
Dui Hua has discovered an espionage case concerning a resident of Macau Special Administrative Region from court websites. Qiao Junjie (乔俊捷), who was formerly known as Qiao Yong (乔勇) and was born in Beijing in 1958, was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve for espionage by the Beijing No.2 Intermediate Court on June 14, 2016. The Beijing High People’s Court upheld the conviction and sentence on December 9, 2016. The same high court commuted his death sentence with reprieve to life imprisonment on May 27, 2019. His case specifics are unclear. Qiao is the only Macau resident convicted of espionage known to Dui Hua, according to our Political Prisoner Database.
Health Conditions of Political Prisoners
On July 10, 2019, self-taught legal activist Ji Sizun (纪斯尊) died, at the age of 71, of colorectal cancer. His death, which came about two months after the completion of his four-years-and-six-months’ imprisonment imposed in 2016, has once again raised questions about China’s treatment of human rights campaigners. In April 2016, Ji was sentenced in Fujian for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” The sentence was upheld by the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in July 2016. Widely lauded as a “barefoot lawyer” by the human rights community, Ji not only taught himself law but also gave advice to petitioners to defend their legal rights against land seizures and forcible demolitions. While Ji was hospitalized several times during his prison terms, he was placed in a hospital’s intensive care unit under police guard upon completing his sentence in April 2019. His relatives were only allowed to visit Ji when he was in a coma before his death. His body was immediately cremated, reportedly against his family’s wishes. The 2016 sentence was Ji’s second: since he was imprisoned for the first time in 2008, Dui Hua has included his name on seven prisoner lists submitted directly or indirectly to the Chinese government.
On July 29, 2019, Huang Qi (黄琦), who was accused of running a “hostile foreign website” named after the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, received a harsh sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment in Mianyang, Sichuan for two offenses: intentionally leaking state secrets and illegally providing state secrets to foreign personnel or organizations. Friends and his 86-year-old mother worry that Huang will suffer the same fate as Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), who died in custody in July 2017 after being denied leave to seek cancer treatment overseas. Huang, aged 56, is scheduled for release on November 27, 2028. He is reportedly suffering from chronic diseases such as renal failure, hydrocephalus, heart disease, and emphysema.
Like Ji Sizun (纪斯尊) and Huang Qi (黄琦), the case of Wang Jing (王晶) highlights the issue of deprivation of medical care for human rights activists during incarceration. Wang Jing continues to be in poor health after she was released from Jilin Women’s Prison on September 15, 2019. Wang, a citizen reporter covering petitioners and provided information for 64tianwang.com, suffers from a brain tumor and her condition is deteriorating. She was criminally detained in 2014 because of her report on a petitioner who set himself ablaze in Tiananmen Square. Although Wang was diagnosed with brain cancer before she was placed under criminal detention, she was not granted bail and was reportedly mistreated while in custody in 2015. On April 20, 2016, the Chuanying District People’s Court sentenced her to four years and ten months’ imprisonment for picking quarrels and provoking troubles. The Jilin Intermediate People’s Court upheld the conviction and sentence in 2016. Despite her medical condition, the prison refused to consider her for medical parole in 2017. The intermediate court rejected her request for a post-conviction appeal in 2018. News media reported that her tumor has returned, and that she has not recovered from the spinal injury she received during mistreatment.
Notable Releases of Political Prisoners
Three notable activists were released in August 2019. Lin Zulian (林祖恋), an iconic figure of the 2011 Wukan protests against corruption and land seizure, was released from Guangdong’s Yangjiang Prison on August 3. The popularly elected village leader was once hailed by state media for creating a democratic mechanism known as the “Wukan Model.” Lin’s continued efforts to organize petitions to seek redress for land disputes led to his arrest and televised confession for taking bribes in June 2016. The Chancheng District People’s Court sentenced him to a 37-month term of imprisonment on September 8, 2016. Lin, now aged 75, has been under 24-hour police surveillance since his release.
Also on August 3, Dong Guangping (董广平) completed his three-years-and-six-month sentence at Nan’an District Detention Center, Chongqing, given for subversion and illegal border crossing. Dong was arrested in China for commemorating “June Fourth” in May 2014 but fled eight months later with his wife and daughter, while he was on bail and awaiting trial. After fleeing to Thailand in September 2015, Dong awaited resettlement to Canada as a refugee recognized by the U.N. His forcible repatriation by the Thai government in November 2015 drew strong criticism from the U.N. Human Rights Council and international rights groups.
Yang Maodong (杨茂东), also known as Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄), was released from Guangdong’s Yingde Prison on August 7, after serving six years in prison for “gathering a crowd to disturb a public place” and “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” Guo was a vocal supporter of the now-defunct New Citizens Movement and Southern Street Movement, both of which called for the disclosure of officials’ private assets.