Wei Jingsheng, considered by many to be the "father" of China's democracy movement, was nominated for the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize and is compared by many people to Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union. He was an important leader in the Democracy Wall Movement during the "Beijing Spring" demonstration of 1979. He spent 15 years in jail for the “heinous” crime of putting up a wall poster.
Wei was born in 1950 to a loyal, mid-level Communist Party cadres. As a young man he was enthusiast supporter of the teachings of Mao. Instead of attending high school, he became a self described "fanatic Maoist" and joined the Red Guard. He served in red army and worked in the Beijing Zoo. In 1996 he received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. In 1995 he was awarded the Olaf Palme Award.
Outside of intellectual circles in China, Wei is not all that well known in China. Among those who offered to help Wei while he was in prison were two former U.S. Attorney Generals, a French justice minister, the former chairman of the Bar of England and Singapore's former solicitor general.
Wei Jingsheng and the Democracy Wall Movement
Deng Xiaoping is believed to have been the one who ordered Wei arrested and the Democracy Wall torn down after Wei wrote a editorial stating that Marxist countries were "without exception undemocratic and even anti-democratic autocracies." He later wrote that "the people must maintain vigilance against Deng Xiaoping's metamorphosis into a dictator."
Wei write to letters to Deng. In 1987, he wrote, "Your problem is that you have too much ambition, too little talent and you're narrow-minded." On Wei, Deng once said, "Didn't we arrest Wei Jingsheng? We arrested him and haven't let him go, yet China's image has not suffered."
We Jingsheng's Arrest and Imprisonment
in 2009 Wei was imprisoned in a 4½-x-9-foot cell with light that was on 24 hours day. He was not allowed to read or write. No one, not even the guards, were allowed to speak to him. After two years, a sympathetic guard or another prisoner smuggled Wei a ballpoint pen on his meal tray. Guards searched his cell for the pen and were unable to find it (he hid it by dangling it on string in the hollow metal rods of his bed). When he was moved to a new cell he managed to sneak the pen with him.
Later Wei was allowed to write a monthly letter to his two sisters and brother. He was forbidden to write about the negatives he experienced—sleep depravation, beatings, malnutrition, rotting teeth, heart pain and other health problems. Guards sometimes took Wei's pen. When that happened other prisoners took apart pens, often stolen from guards, and smuggled them to Wei.
While Wei was in jail his girlfriend married someone else. After Wei was taken off of death row he wrote his family: "I learned to look on death as something as inevitable as life itself. Sometimes I think if I died it would be good for me and better for you. Waiting for death, stuck between life and death, is much worse than dying right away."
Wei Jingsheng's Brief Release from Return to Prison
In September 1993, Wei was released on parole after serving 14½ years of a 15 year sentence shortly before the vote on who would get to host the 2000 Olympics. Without missing a beat he renewed his attacks on the Chinese government and encouraged the international community to deny Beijing the opportunity to host the Olympics.
In an essay on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times he wrote: “the present leaders were the most outspoken group of men, shouting their support of human rights and democracy before they ascended to power. But their subsequent dictatorship made clear that they had no intention of making good on promises they once made to the masses."
Six months after he was released, and after Beijing's lost its bid for the Olympics, Wei was imprisoned again on April 1994 by seven carloads of plainclothes police while driving from Beijing to the nearby city of Tianjin. Authorities confiscated his papers but couldn't find his computer disks.
Wei was imprisoned again. H's family did no know his whereabouts for more than a year. In a secret 5½ hour trial in December, 1995 he was sentenced to 14 years for publishing pro-democracy essays, raising money for China's democracy movement and "continuing to plot for overthrow of the Government." At the time he was 44.
Wei was placed in solitary confinement in freezing cell with two glass walls so he could be monitored and restricted from writing. According to a the German news weekly he was kept 90 miles from Beijing in a labor camp holding 10,000 prisoners who worked under horrible conditions in a salt mine that earned the government $415 million in 35 years. Suffering from heart problems, arthritis and high blood pressure, he had had difficulty eating because he lost many of teeth in pervious jail term.
Wei Jingsheng in the United States
Wei was released to the United States in November 1997. The release was partly attributed to concern by United States President Clinton about his health and welfare and the fact that President Jiang Zemin was soon going to visit the United States. After a brief stay at a Detroit hospital, Wei moved to New York, where became a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University
In 1997 Wei's book The Courage to Stand Alone: Letters from Prison and Other Writings (Viking) was published in the United States. It was made mainly of letters transcribed by Tong Yi, a young woman who spent 2½ years in a labor camp, and was sometimes beaten, before being allowed to leave Japan. The book was assembled without Wei's knowledge by his relatives in China and admirers in the West.
Describing a meeting with Wei in the United States, Nancy Yoshihara wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "Wei appears smart and well read. He smiles easily” and “is at once direct and indirect. he is forthright in his opinions, then slips into piquant metaphor to make his points...He still wears clothes brought from China by his friends. A heavy smoker, he likes to remind Californians ‘smoking is a right, too.’"
Dr. Fang Lizhi, an astrophysicist and former vice president of the National Science and Technical University in Hefe, was involved in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and allowed to leave China in 1990.
Fang Lizhi, one of China's most famous dissidents, is best known for speeches that inspired student protesters throughout the 1980s. A towering figure in China's human rights movement, he was a key figure in the Tiananmen square demonstrations and fled to the United States after China's 1989 military crackdown. Once China's leading astrophysicist, Fang and his wife hid in the U.S. Embassy for 13 months after the crackdown. In exile, he was a physics professor at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, where he taught since 1992. He died at the age of 76 in April 2012. [Source: The Guardian, April 7, 2012]
Some have called Fang the "father" of the Tiananmen student movement. His friend and fellow US-based exiled dissident Wang Dan wrote on Facebook and Twitter: "I hope the Chinese people will never forget that there was once a thinker like Fang Lizhi. He inspired the '89 generation, and awoke in the people their yearning for human rights and democracy," Wang wrote. "One day, China will be proud to once have had Fang Lizhi. "Fang is my spiritual teacher.
The son of a postal clerk in Hangzhou, Fang was admitted to Beijing University in 1952, aged 16, to study theoretical physics and nuclear physics. He became one of China's pioneer researchers in laser theory. He burst into political prominence during pro-democracy student demonstrations of 1986-8 when he became China's most outspoken and eloquent proponent of democratic reform. Authorities alleged his speeches to students at the University of Science and Technology, where he was vice-president, incited unrest. Fang was expelled from the Communist party and sacked from his university post. But he refused to be silenced and received letters of support from across the country almost daily.
After the 4 June 1989 military crackdown that crushed the seven-week pro-democracy movement, Fang and his wife fled into the US embassy. Fang and his wife had both been named in Chinese warrants that could have carried death sentences upon conviction. American diplomats refused to turn them over to Chinese authorities. China's decision to allow the couple to leave the country a year later eliminated a major obstacle to bettering China-US relations, which had deteriorated badly after the crackdown, which left hundreds and perhaps thousands dead.
Wei Jingsheng on Fang Lizhi: China's Human Rights Hero
Wei Jingsheng wrote in Global Viewpoint: Professor Fang Lizhi, the Chinese astrophysicist whom many regarded as "China's Sakharov," died at his home in Arizona. For this great Chinese patriot to die in the American desert 22 years after he was forced into exile symbolizes the harsh truth about the ruling Communist regime which Fang often warned the world about. [Source: Global Viewpoint, April 10, 2012]
For those of us whose memories have not been erased by the censorship of getting rich gloriously, Fang was a hero. In the years and months leading up to the Tiananmen demonstrations in 1989, he dared to tell the historical facts -- about Mao, the Party, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution -- to a new generation.
Although I didn't meet him till later in life, our fates were intertwined through the democracy movement. It was Professor Fang's open letter to Deng Xiaoping on January 6, 1989, that sparked the mass movement that Deng would crush in June. In that letter he called for my release from prison, where I had already served 10 of the 15 years I would ultimately serve for my big character poster calling for "the Fifth Modernization" -- democracy.
My gratitude to Fang remains immense. For foreign dignitaries to ask the Chinese government to release me was one thing, and I am of course grateful. But for the person whom Deng Xiaoping hated most to openly offend the dictator required enormous courage. The temper of a dictator is not to bow to any pressure. Such pressure from abroad was easier to resist because intractability could be wrapped in the flag of sovereignty. To Deng, Fang Lizhi was much more dangerous because his voice resonated with the younger generation who were China's future. Deng well understood that Fang offered a decidedly different path to that future -- one Deng proved he could not abide on June 4 when he called out the tanks.
From his outpost in exile, Professor Fang did not give up. In 2010, when yet another brutal campaign to repress and intimidate dissidents was launched by the Party leadership, Fang wrote: "This should be a wake-up call to anyone who naively believes the autocratic rulers of China will alter their disregard of human rights just because the country is richer. Regardless of how widely China's leaders have opened its market to the outside world, they have not retreated even half a step from their repressive political creed.
"On the contrary, China's dictators have become even more contemptuous of the value of universal human rights. As the unfortunate history of Japan during the first half of the 20th century illustrates, a power that marries economic strength with human rights violations is a threat to peace."Though the democracy movement has been weakened in China, Fang did not waste his life. Being a tragic hero does not tarnish the true essence of heroism. Just like an old poem says: "Be a hero of the people when alive/ Be a martyr among the spirits when you die;/ Think of ancient general Xiang Yu, who fought to his end."
Tiananmen Square Political Activists
Wang Dan in 1989 A number of dissidents and political prisoners that achieved notoriety in the 1990s were associated with the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Bao Tong was the most senior member of the Communist party linked to the Tiananmen Square protest other than Zhao Ziyang,. A former top advisor to former party general secretary Zhao Ziyang, he was arrested and imprisoned shortly after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. He was released from prison in 1998 and lives outside of Beijing and has been denied his political rights.
See Zhao Ziyang
Zhai Weimin, a student leader at the Tiananmen Square demonstrations was snatched off the streets in 1994 by plain clothed policemen. Ma Saofand, another student leader, disappeared and was believed to be in detention.
Chinese labor organizer and Tiananmen Square dissident Han Dongfang was imprisoned for two years. While in prison he came down with tuberculosis and was sent for treatment to the U.S., where he had his lung removed. When he tried to return to China he was literally pushed back into Hong Kong.. Han decided to stay in Hong Kong after the handover. He publishes the Labor Bulletin in Hong Kong, hosts a call in radio show and serves as a watchdog on human right abuses..
Yu Dongyue was jailed for throwing paint on a portrait of Mao Zedong during the Tiananmen protests. He was released after 16 years in February 2006. He was the last major figure from Tiananmen Square to be released.
Operation Yellowbird and Celebrity Abroad
Operation Yellow is alliance of human rights advocates, business, smugglers and Chinese mobsters who have smuggled 500 Chinese out of China after the Tiananmen Square protests and resettled them abroad. Tiananmen leader Wuer Kaixi escaped from China—in a $13,000 operation masterminded by Operation Yellowbird and financed by the Chinese mafia—on speedboat to Hong Kong, where he was given a visa, a passport and a plane ticket to Paris.
The Operation Yellowbird teams used scrambler devices, night-vision goggle and infrared signalers in their runs for freedom and used make up artists to disguise the escapees. The group had contacts with border guards, local police and radar operators. Shen Tong, one of the "21 most wanted counterevolutionaries" was simply boarded on plane at Beijing airport with the help of customs and immigration officials. [Source: Newsweek]
The twenty-something Tiananmen Square leaders that managed to escape from China became big stars. They met with world leaders, were invited to the White House, were interviewed by the major networks, were offered movie deals and funneled money from supporters in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Many of those that made their way to the United States got degrees at Princeton, Harvard, Berkeley or Columbia,
Li Lu was a key organizer at Tiananmen Square got a law degree and M.B.A. at Columbia and got a job heading a hedge fund. Liu Gang, an imprisoned student leader and for a whole the no. 3 person on Beijing’s most wanted list, got a degree in computer science from Columbia after he was released from prison in 1994.
Wang Dan in Washington in 1998 Wang Dan, one of the most well leader from Tiananmen Square, was a student at Beijing University and an organizer of the Beijing Student Autonomous Federation at the time of the protests. After being declared No. 1 on the government’s most wanted list he was arrested.
In 1989, Wang was sentenced to four years in prison for "counterrevolutionary crimes" and trying to topple the Chinese government. He was released after 3½ years in 1993—along with writer Liu Xiaobo—, after great efforts by the Bush administration. After Wang was released he and his mother was closely watched; he had articles calling for political reforms published in Hong Kong; and organized a petition calling for the government to move towards rule of law and tolerate dissent.
Wang was jailed again in May, 1995 after being charged with "trying to subvert the Chinese government." Among the charges brought against Wang were taking a University of California correspondence course on history, illegal fund raising and writing articles "aimed at inciting unrest." His crimes carried a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum penalty of death by execution. Wang's 61-year-old mother, who has no legal training, served as Wang's lawyer.
In April 1998, at the age of 29 Wang, was released on medical parole, even though he didn't seem very ill, and exiled to the United States. He studied at Harvard, worked as an interpreter for the U.S. State Department, became a U.S. citizen and wrote a book: Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen. In 2008 he received his doctorate from Harvard in history.
Wuer Kaixi and Chai Ling
Chai Ling in 1989 Wuer Kaixi was the charismatic leader of the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation during the Tiananmen protests. He made a name for himself debating with Li Peng while televison cameras were rolling and became the second most wanted man in China after the protests were over.
Wuer escaped to France using Operation Yellowbird and then made his way to the United States. He studied at Harvard for a while and then lived in California with his Taiwanese wife, Chen Huiling, and ran the Ranch House restaurant near San Francisco International airport. At that time he told journalist Orville Schell he had two ambitions: either to go back to China to "do something really politically meaningful or...to become a billionaire."
Wuer Waixi was arrested by Japanese police when he tried to break into the Chinese embassy in Tokyo in June 2010. He said after he was released two days later, ‘I tried to enter the embassy to turn myself in. I wanted to return to China and probe my innocense in court. I haven’t given up of returning [to China]>
Wuer was given permanent residence in Taiwan where he became a talk show host. In 2004, he came to Hong Kong to attend the funeral of his friend, the pop singer Anita Mui. Authorities in Hong Kong gave him permission to visit.
Wuer Kaixi in the 1990s Chai Ling, a psychology studen and commander-in-chief of the Tiananmen Square Headquarters Command, was no. 4 on the government most wanted list after the protest. She escaped from China after the protests—according to some reports—squeezed into a wooden crate by smugglers. She appeared first in Hong Kong and later went to France and then to United States. She got an MBA at Harvard, worked as a government consultant in Boston and founded her own Internet company.
Wang Juntao and Chen Ziming
Wang Juntao founded the Beijing Social and Economic Sciences research Institute with Chen Ziming. In 1976 he led demonstrations at Tiananmen Square in support of Deng Xiaoping. In 1979, he was involved in the Democracy Wall movement and supported the students at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Weng Juntao In 1991, Weng was labeled a "black hands" and sentenced to 13 years in prison for speaking up for those who lost their life at Tiananmen Square. "The dead are unable to defend themselves.” he wrote. “Many of them intended to fight for China and her people, for truth and justice. I decided to take a chance to defend some of their points, even if I did not agree with all of them at the time...A defense should not be limited to saying 'I do not oppose leaders,' but should allow for the legitimate right of people to oppose leaders." Wang was released in 1994. He escaped to the United States, where he attended Harvard Kennedy School and became president of the China Strategic Institute.
Chen Ziming was also labeled as a "black hands.” He tried to mediate between the students and the government during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. After the protests he managed to escaped from Beijing and was captured, accompanied by his wife, in the southern city of Zhanjian, He was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 1991 on sedition charges.
Chen had been involved in earlier uprisings and mainly played a behind the scenes role at Tiananmen Square. He was given a longer sentence than anyone else associated with Tiananmen Square. As a concession to the Clinton administration, Chen was released in May 1994 and then arrested again in June, 1995 even though he had been diagnosed with cancer. After spending most of the time after that under house arrest he was formally released in October 2006.
U.S.-Based Chinese Political Activists
Chai Ling in the 1990s Liu Qing was a Democracy Wall activist who was imprisoned from 1979-1989 and 1990-1991. He came to the United States in 1992 and is now chairman of the New York-based Human Rights in China.
Fang's speeches were criticized by the Communist government as "bourgeois liberalism" and the work of "professional hooliganism." Fang once said "men are born with rights—to live, to marry, to think, to receive an education," and that is the only way for China "to transform the feudalistic ideas and gradually approach modern standards in thinking." He also said "Democracy can be achieved only gradually through consistent effort. There is nothing to afraid of. Criticizing government leaders is a symbol of democracy. I hold the view that we may criticize leaders."
Liu Binyan, a dissident writer, exposed official corruption and challenged the government to reform itself in the official party newspaper, the People’s Daily. Known as an insider willing to put is neck on the line for his beliefs, he was expelled from the Communist Party in 1987 and exiled from China to the United States in 1988. In the United States he edited Princeton-based China Focus Newsletter and died in 2005 at the age of 80.
In 1995, Chinese-American activist Harry Wu was arrested for espionage, given a 15 year prison sentence and then expelled from China. Wu had entered western China illegally from Kazakhstan to document the horrors at labor camps in Xinjiang Province. Before he was expelled, Wu was kept in a 6-x-6-foot room and watched around the clock by guards who peered through a mirror on his desk and a even spied on him in the bathroom from a peephole.
The son of a Shanghai banker, Wu was imprisoned in 1960 when he was a Chinese citizen for criticizing the Soviet Union. After spending 19 years in Chinese prisons he was released in 1985. In 1985, Wu moved to the United States as a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. He became a U.S. citizen and created the Laogai Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization financed by the AFL-CIO to educate the public about forced labor in China. In 1995, he went back to China with a hidden video camera in his bag to document the labor camps. He was arrested, detained for two months and convicted of trying to steal state secrets. Sentenced to 15 years in prison, he was instead deported to the United States. He now lives in Virginia. [Source: Larissa Roso, Washington Post, June 27, 2011]
Wu was released in 1995 partly to keep Hillary Clinton from canceling her appearance at U.N. conference of woman’s issues in Beijing. On previous trips to China Wu used a hidden camera to film prisoners standing in vats of toxic chemicals at a Chinese tannery and interview the families of organ transplant recipients who said they received their organs from executed prisoners. On how to survive Chinese interrogation Wu told Time, "Play it like a game. They insist you give them something. You resist then give a little. You get in trouble if you give everything at once or if you refuse to cooperate.
Harry Wu’s Imprisonment in the Mao Era
Wu’s suffered starvation, torture and sickness while he was imprisoned. Larissa Roso wrote in the Washington Post, “Wu said he worked 12 hours a day on farms and in coal mines and steel mills. Food was scarce, and he sometimes ate roots, snakes and frogs. He tried to commit suicide twice, refusing to eat while in solitary confinement. His weight plummeted to 80 pounds. Throughout his imprisonment, he was allowed to write a one-page letter home every month. But he couldn’t say much to his parents and seven siblings. Police usually read the mail and censored any attempt to describe his life. It took him seven years to learn that his mother had died. [Source:Larissa Roso, Washington Post, June 27, 2011]
“I saw many people passing away,” said Wu, “Nobody cried. The brain doesn’t work. China set up the system not only to force people to make the products, to make profit for the government, but also to change people’s minds. Brain change. There is no choice of religion, no choice of political view.”
Every day, twice a day, he was asked three questions: “Who are you? What is this place? Why are you here?” The required answers: “I am a criminal. This is the Laogai. I am here to reform through labor.” “Finally, in 1979, I got a document saying they had rehabilitated me so I could go,” Wu said. “I went back to the university. And I shut up.”
Wu was a geology student in Beijing who never had been involved in political activities when he was arrested in 1960 as a “counterrevolutionary rightist,” he said. He was forced to sign papers without reading them and taken to a labor camp, a chemical factory in Beijing. “I had no choice; I signed it,” Wu recalled. “Until today, I do not know what was in that paper. They told me: “You’re sentenced to life.’ “
Wu with Wei Jingsheng, Rebiya Kadeer and George Bush at the White House in 2008
Harry Wu’s Laogai Museum of Human Rights
The Laogai Museum at Dupont Circle in Washington was set up Harry Wu to showcase human rights abuses in China, particularly the Communist regime’s use of prisons to punish dissenters. It was created by Harry Wu, 74, a human rights activist who spent 19 years in forced labor camps. Among the artifacts, photos, videos, books and government documents on display are a a faded patchwork coat and pants once belonged to an accused counterrevolutionary named Liu Zhuanghuan, who spent a decade at a forced labor camp during China’s brutal Cultural Revolution. His son was confined to the same camp but never allowed to see his father. One exception was made: He was allowed to identify his father’s body and collect his belongings after Zhuanghuan committed suicide in 1973. The camera, a dictionary and the U.S. passport carried Wu when he was arrested in China in 1995 are also on display. [Source: Larissa Roso, Washington Post, June 27, 2011]
The museum first opened on M Street NW in 2008. The new space, which opened in the springof 2011 on 20th Street, cost $1 million to develop, design and construct. Most of the money for the 2,100-square-foot museum came from the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund. Inside, there are 48 profiles of Laogai victims covering the walls. The story of Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is there. His crime: incitement of subversion. Arrested three times, Xiaobo has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Four survivors, including Wu, describe their years in the camps. Visitors also can see an array of forced labor products —clothing, footwear, tea, toys, wine, home goods —sold all over the world. “Are you buying things made in the Laogai?” asks a sign close to a Wal-Mart bag and a Chicago Bulls cap.
According the Laogai Research Foundation, founded by Wu, China has incarcerated more than 40 million people since 1949. Millions died in the labor camp system known as Laogai, which translates to “reform through labor.” The group maintains that 3 million to 5 million people are still imprisoned for political reasons today —a figure rejected by Chinese officials who question Wu’s motives. “I’m not aware of those numbers,” said Wang Baodong, spokesman of the Embassy of China in Washington. “This museum is politically motivated. It’s against China and the Chinese government. He hates the Chinese government.”
Well-Known Chinese Political Activists in the 1990s
Wang Juntao and Wang Youcai Zhou Guooqiang, a labor activist, was sentenced in 1996 to thee years of reeducation. His sentence was extended for "refusing to reform himself."
Liu Nianchin, a former factory worker and novelist, was sentenced to thee years in prisons in July 1996 for labor activism and a pro-democracy petition. Hu Shigen, a 38-year-old former lecturer at Beijing Language Institute, received a 20-year sentence in December 1996 for allegedly trying to organize a new party. Han Chunsheng, known to some as the counterrevolutionary chicken farmer, was sentenced to eight years in prison in 1996 for writing letters to Voice of America.
In December 1996, Li Hai, a teacher at a medical college, was sentenced to 9 years in prison for putting together a list of people still jail for taking part in the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations. In December 1998, Shanghai Computer Engineer Lin Hai went on trial for "inciting the overthrow of state power" for providing 30,000 e-mail addresses to a pro-democracy online magazine.
In January 1999, Zhang Shanuang imprisoned for 10 years for "illegally providing intelligence to hostile foreign organizations" by informing United-States-funded Radio Free Asia of a protest by farmers. After his arrests his wife said, "Everyone knows about the event so how can this be considered a national secret."
Veteran activist Zhu Yufu spent seven year sin prison beginning in 1999 for his attempt to register the opposition China Democratic Party and publishing anti-government articles on the Internet.
In December 1998, Xu Wenli was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a 3½-hour trial for subverting state power by trying to establish an opposition party. Xu had recently established the China Democratic Party. He had early served a 12-year jail tern that ended in 1993. Two other dissidents Wang Youcai and Qin Yongmin were arrested and given sentences of 11 and 12 year respectively after attempting to rein in the China Democratic Party. Wang was freed in December, 2002 and sent to the United States. Qin was jailed until 2010.
Qin Yongmin Released in 2010
In November 2010, Qin Yongmin—co-founder of a would-be Chinese opposition political party—was released from prison after completing a 12-year prison term for endangering state security. According to the South China Morning Post, he was transported to a police station in his home city of Wuhan early in the morning. Officers confiscated his prison writings and warned him not to speak to reporters or meet other dissidents before allowing him to return home, Qin told reporters in a telephone interview. ‘I tried to tell them it was illegal but they just stole everything I had written,’ Qin said. [Source: South China Morning Post, November 29, 2010]
Qin was given one of the harshest sentences among the organisers of the China Democracy Party who were charged with endangering state security after seeking to register the group in 1998. Qin, 57, has a history of political activism dating back three decades, and had already spent a number of years in detention. His punishment underscores the government’s hostility toward political reform, even as the economy continues to develop and Chinese society opens further to outside influences. [Ibid]
Two other co-founders of the China Democracy Party, Wang Youcai and Xu Wenli, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms but exiled to the United States after a few years of confinement following intense diplomatic pressure from Washington. [Ibid]
Image Sources: Taipei TC; Learn to Question; More Less com; China News Digest; AP, Harvard Business School
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated April 2012