New York Times: China May Release Last Known Tiananmen Prisoner in October

The New York Times
By Austin Ramzy

May 4, 2016

■ Hong Kong — A man believed to be the last person still in prison for participating in the 1989 Tiananmen protests is scheduled to be released later this year, a human rights group said.

The man, Miao Deshun, was given an 11-month reduction in his sentence this spring, which means he should be released in October, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, an organization based in San Francisco that has lobbied for Mr. Miao and other prisoners from that era.

Mr. Miao was convicted of arson for throwing a basket onto a burning tank and was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in August 1989. He was one of more than 1,500 people sentenced to prison after the crackdown in June 1989 on protesters in Beijing and other cities left hundreds, possibly thousands, of people dead.

Mr. Miao, 51, was a worker from Hebei Province, and his harsh sentence may have been connected to his lowly status. Workers involved in the protests generally received longer jail terms than students.

Tiananmen Square on June 2, 1989. More than 1,500 people were sentenced to
prison after the crackdown that began a day later.
Catherine Henriette/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Former prisoners who knew Mr. Miao recalled him as extremely thin, and one said that guards would not shackle him, probably because he did not have the strength to move with chains around his feet, the BBC reported in 2014.

Dui Hua said that Mr. Miao has had no contact with the outside world in many years, and that he has hepatitis B and schizophrenia.

The group had raised Mr. Miao’s case in 17 prisoner lists submitted to the Chinese authorities since 2005. He was given a one-year sentence reduction in 2012, and his sentence was reduced again in March for good behavior, making him eligible for release in October.

“We welcome this news, and express the hope that he will receive the care he needs to resume a normal life after spending more than half of it behind bars,” John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation, said in a written statement.

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