May 31, 2017
Twenty-eight years after People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops put an end to weeks of student-led pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square with tanks and machine guns, more than 20 dissidents remain in jail for campaigning over the massacre, rights activists said ahead of Sunday‘s anniversary.
Those who participated in the nationwide democracy movement have since been persecuted for their subsequent involvement in human rights activism or campaigns for constitutional government, including 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and writer Liu Xiaobo, veteran journalist Gao Yu and rights activist Guo Feixiong, the overseas-based China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network said on Wednesday.
Activists Chen Wei, Chen Xi and Zhu Yufu are all also currently serving lengthy jail terms on subversion charges, while former student leader and Buddhist monk Wu Zeheng was jailed in 2015.
Lawyer Tang Jingling, Buddhist monk Sheng Guan and members of the banned opposition China Democracy Party (CDP) Chen Shuqing, Lü Gengsong and Hu Shigen are also current prisoners of conscience.
“Punishments for former 1989 participants are often harsher than for other prisoners, as authorities treat them as ‘recidivists’ with ‘political motivation’ to challenge the legitimacy of the one-party-ruled authoritarian state,” the group said.
“Some had served prison terms for their role in the movement and resumed their democracy and human rights activities after being released,” CHRD, which compiles reports from groups inside China, said in a statement on its website.