China Said To Be Preparing To Free Jailed Dissident


2004.11.23
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HONG KONG—Chinese authorities are preparing to release veteran dissident Liu Jingsheng, cutting his jail term short by 2-1/2 years, according to a U.S-based human rights group.

Liu, jailed since 1992, is expected to be freed on Nov. 27, Human Rights in China said, quoting unnamed sources in Beijing. It described the planned move as an apparent “conciliatory gesture” by President Hu Jintao’s government.

A spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.

Liu, 50, is a veteran of the Democracy Wall movement of 1978 and one of China’s best-known dissidents. In the late 1970s, he co-edited the political journal Exploration with fellow dissident Wei Jingsheng

Wang Guoqi, jailed with Liu Jingsheng but released in 2003, told RFA’s Mandarin service that Liu would face tough times after his release.

‘You can’t hold out too much hope’

“In jail we were on the same team—for nearly four years,” Wang said. “You can’t hold out too much hope about your living environment after coming out. I am still facing survival issues.”

Liu’s sentence was to include four years without the right to form organizations, publish, vote, stand for election, or work as a state employee. Liu’s planned release conveys “no positive message yet,” he said, noting that other leading dissidents remain in prison.

According to Human Rights in China, Liu at one point was shackled hand and foot for 104 days and suffers from intestinal illness. It said his family's requests for him to receive treatment outside prison have been denied.

15-year sentence

Liu was detained on May 28, 1992, and on Dec. 16, 1994 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of "organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary organization" and "inciting counterrevolutionary subversion."

“After the 1989 Democracy Movement, Liu Jingsheng joined up with Hu Shigen, Kong Yuchun, and others to establish the China Freedom and Democracy Party, and was also active in the independent labor union movement, Human Rights in China said.

“It is for these activities that Liu was ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison. People familiar with the trial proceedings recall an emotional scene where Liu was forcibly separated from his family, and that Liu, Hu and the others cried out, ‘Long live democracy! Long live freedom!’ when their sentences were pronounced,” it said.

Liu has suffered illness and abuse during his detention, the group said.

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