China Frees Leading Dissident


2004.11.29
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HONG KONG—Chinese authorities have freed a key pro-democracy activist, Liu Jingsheng, after more than 12 years in prison. Liu told RFA that prison hadn’t changed his political convictions but said he deeply regrets missing his child’s early years.

"When I saw my family, I had mixed feelings," Liu, now 50, said in an interview after his release Nov. 27. "I couldn’t say anything. I was speechless. It’s very complicated."

"I haven’t changed any of my ideas about pursuing democracy. I want to continue," he said. "But when my mother talks about my child, she cries. When my wife talks about my child, she cries. I feel very sorry because I wasn’t there for my child’s early years… I feel that I have to make a decision, and… it will be very painful."

Difficult adjustment

"After so many years in prison, I cannot adjust quickly to this new environment," he said.

When my mother talks about my child, she cries. When my wife talks about my child, she cries. I feel very sorry because I wasn’t there for my child’s early years…

Wang Tiancheng, a fellow dissident and formerly Liu’s cellmate, said in a separate interview that he wished other dissidents sentenced in the same case could also be granted early release.

Liu joined the 1978 Democracy Wall movement and helped set up the China Freedom and Democracy Party after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

In the late 1970s, he co-edited the political journal Exploration with fellow dissident Wei Jingsheng.

He was detained on May 28, 1992, and sentenced to 15 years in prison on Dec. 16, 1994, on charges of "organizing and leading a counter-revolutionary" group and "inciting counter-revolutionary subversion."

He spent seven years in Beijing’s Prison Number 2 followed by more than five years in Banbuqiao Jail, also in Beijing. He has reportedly developed a number of health problems while in prison.

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