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June 4th Activist Li Hai to be Released from Prison

May 28, 2004

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Li Hai, a political activist who participated in the 1989 democracy movement, will be released from prison on May 30 upon completion of his nine-year sentence.

According to sources in China, many of Li’s friends in the dissident community have made plans to greet him as he leaves the Liangxiang Prison, but police have reportedly warned Li’s mother to ensure that the release does not spark any “unanticipated events.” The warning has provoked worries that the nearness of the tense June 4th anniversary date may result in delays to Li’s release.

In 1989 Li Hai was a graduate student in philosophy at Peking University. He became an enthusiastic participant in the democracy movement, and a spokesperson for the Peking University Autonomous Students Federation. Li was detained in May 1990 and released seven months afterwards.

Upon his release Li Hai took on the responsibility of assisting other political prisoners by contacting their families and making their situation known to the international community. Li Hai also assisted overseas organizations in distributing humanitarian aide to political prisoners and their families. Because of these activities, Li Hai was detained again in May 1995, and at the end of the same year was sentenced to nine years in prison and two years’ subsequent deprivation of political rights on charges of “providing state secrets to entities overseas.” While in Liangxiang Prison Li Hai has been subjected to severe physical and mental abuse, with most of his sentence spent in solitary confinement or under close monitoring.

“Li Hai has already suffered unreasonably for peaceful activities that are not even considered crimes in free and democratic societies,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “We urge the Chinese government not to use the June 4th anniversary as a pretext to deprive Li Hai of his liberty any longer than fulfillment of his sentence demands.”