Hunan Opposition Activist Released

A Chinese political dissident is free after a lengthy prison term.

china-prison-305.gif A protester holds a paper-made prison door in front of a policeman (R) standing guard during Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Hong Kong, Aug. 18, 2011.

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hunan on Monday released a pro-democracy activist at the end of a 12-year jail term for subversion.

Bo Xiaomao told RFA that he endured solitary confinement and substandard medical treatment during his term in Hunan's Kaichishan prison.

But he said he had no regrets about his involvement with the attempt to legally register the now-banned China Democracy Party (CDP).

"I said at the time that if the CDP was open and legal I would support it and that if it was secret and unconstitutional I would not," he said on Monday, shortly after arriving home.

Bo's sister said she was only informed earlier in the day of her brother's release, during which he was accompanied home by four police officers.

She said she was concerned for his health.

"His eyes are bad," she said. "I asked him today if he received the medicine we sent him, and he said he didn't get it."

She said two of Bo's friends had traveled to the prison to meet him. "They had to go and register at the police station afterwards," she said.

Democracy activist

Bo, 47, was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment for "incitement to subvert state power in 1999, after he tried to set up the Hunan branch of the CDP.

He had previously served seven years in jail for "counterrevolution" for his involvement in the 1989 student-led pro-democracy movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, which was bloodily suppressed by the People's Liberation Army in June of that year.

China cracked down heavily on nationwide attempts to launch the CDP as a legal entity in 1998.

Wuhan-based activist Qin Yongmin was released from prison on Nov. 29 after serving a 12-year prison term for "endangering state security." Qin said he has been placed under constant surveillance and his Internet services frequently cut off since his release.

In 1999, Hangzhou-based CDP founder Wang Youcai and Beijing-based Xu Wenli received 11-year and 13-year jail terms respectively for their role in the attempt to set up the opposition party. Both were later exiled to the United States on medical parole.

Apart from a token group of "democratic parties" which never oppose or criticize the ruling Communist Party, opposition political parties are banned in China, and those who set them up are frequently handed lengthy jail terms.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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