Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned from reliable sources that Yang Chunlin (杨春林) was released from Xianglan Prison in Heilongjiang Province today, after completing his five-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.” He is now subject to two years of deprivation of political rights. According to our source, upon his release Yang said, “The moment I left prison left a deep impression on me. Today I am free, and my life has just begun. They [the authorities] have deprived me of political rights for two years, but I don’t care. I’ll do what I have to.”
Yang Chunlin, a laid-off worker from Jiamusi, Heilongjiang Province, is a rights defender best known for initiating the 2007 signature campaign “We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics.” The campaign gathered as many as 10,000 signatures due in part to Yang’s efforts visiting homes and villages, and even walking up to 50 kilometers a day in Heilongjiang’s harsh winter weather. Yuan Xianchen (袁显臣), a legal worker and workers rights activist who helped Yang gather signatures for the campaign, was convicted in 2009 on similar charges; he was released from prison on May 28, 2012, after serving four years.
Prior to the signature campaign, Yang was detained four times for participating in a hunger strike organized by Beijing-based rights defense lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) in 2006. During the same year, he also volunteered to help peasants fight the expropriation of their land in Fujin, Heilongjiang Province.
Yang was first detained in July, 2007, and formally arrested in August. He refused to admit guilt and was allegedly tortured in detention, including being chained to a metal bed for nine days as well as being beaten. He was tried by the Jiamusi Municipal Intermediate People’s Court on February 19, 2008. During his trial, Yang was brought into the courtroom in shackles and leg irons, with his head covered by a black hood due to being considered an “serious offender” (要犯). He was convicted on March 24, 2008. After his conviction, Yang declared that he would continue fighting for democracy in China because “establishing democracy is the only way to eradicate the persecution of speech.”
Yang described his prison experience to our source in the following way: “I experienced the dark side of China in prison. From morning to night each day I was busy with manual labor, making paper bags for export. I was subjected to all sorts of persecution while I was inside, both physical and mental abuse, but it made me more resolved to pursue democracy and human rights.”
Below is an English translation of the specific conditions placed on individuals subject to deprivation of political rights excerpted from the Regulations on the Supervision and Administration by Public Security Organs of Criminals Who Have Been Put Under Surveillance, Deprived of Political Rights, Given Reprieve, Given Parole, or Released on Bail for Medical Treatment (公安机关对被管制、剥夺政治权利、缓刑、假释、保外就医罪犯的监督管理规定):
[Translation by HRIC]
Article 12. Public security organs shall announce to the criminal whose political rights are being deprived that he must abide by the following provisions during the deprivation period:
For more information on Yang Chunlin, see: