Human Rights in China has learned that the Chinese authorities have released long-term political prisoner and veteran democracy advocate Hu Shigen (胡石根). Hu was released Tuesday, August 26, 2008, after serving sixteen years of a twenty-year sentence.
“We welcome the release of Hu Shigen, but it is tragic that Hu had to suffer so many years of abuse, serious health problems, and harsh conditions,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. “He should have been released immediately in November 2005, when the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that his detention was arbitrary.”
Hu was detained on May 27, 1992, and on December 16, 1994, was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment for “carrying out counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement” and “organizing a counterrevolutionary group.” Although these two crimes were eliminated in a 1997 revision of the Criminal Law, Hu remained in prison for another eleven years.
Human Rights in China had submitted Hu Shigen’s case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in November 2004. In coming to its decision, the Working Group considered, but rejected, a Chinese government request that the submission be blocked.
Hu, now 53, was active in planning activities to commemorate the government’s violent June 1989 crackdown on democracy and labor activists, and in calling for a reassessment of the government’s actions. He also established the China Freedom and Democracy Party and the Preparatory Committee of the Free Labour Union of China in 1991.
Following his release, Hu is subject to a five-year deprivation of his political rights, imposed at the time of his initial sentencing. Under Chinese Criminal Law, deprivation of political rights means that Hu is formally deprived of his right to exercise free speech, right of association, and right of assembly, as well as his eligibility to hold a position in a State organ or to hold a “leading position” in any State-owned company, enterprise, institution or people’s organization.
For additional information on HRIC’s campaign on behalf of other individuals imprisoned in connection with the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, see: