China's Last Tiananmen Prisoner to Go Free

Miao Deshun set to rejoin Chinese society after 27 years
By Daniel Kay,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2016 11:44 AM CDT
China's Last Tiananmen Prisoner to Go Free
In this combination of photos, a file photo taken June 5, 1989, top, shows a lone Chinese man standing to block a line of tanks near Tiananmen Square.   (AP Photo/Jeff Widener, top, Helene Franchineau, bottom)

The final known person still imprisoned over his role in China's 1989 Tiananmen Square protests is due to be released on Saturday, the AP reports. Miao Deshun—who reportedly suffers from schizophrenia and hepatitis B—refused to admit guilt or repent for participating in the pro-democracy protests. Miao, 51, has spent half his life in prison for throwing a basket at a flaming tank, which was deemed an act of arson. He was originally sentenced to death but had his term reduced several times for good behavior. Still, according to a former fellow prisoner, Miao's refusal to repent alienated him from the other prisoners and made him a frequent target of abuse from the guards.

"It is already a miracle that he is alive," says that ex-prisoner, Wu Wenjian. "We all thought he would not make it out of this." Miao will be released into a world that bears little resemblance to the one he left. Speaking with the Washington Post, human rights activist Hu Jia said Miao is "likely to find himself surrounded by state security police upon his release, something unimaginable before he went to jail. Release from jail does not necessarily mean more freedom.” While the government might be letting Miao go free, Chinese state media isn't too sympathetic to the abuse he suffered. The English-language South China Morning Post reports that state-run paper Global Times recently ran an editorial saying "the life of anyone who bet on the wrong side of history weighs less than a feather." (More China stories.)

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