Tiananmen's last prisoner to be released

The last prisoner in Chinese jails for participating in pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 is to be realesed in October.

File image of a lone Chinese man blocking a line of tanks during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing.

File image of a lone Chinese man blocking a line of tanks during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing. Source: AP

Miao Deshun, the last prisoner in Chinese jails for participating in pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989, will be released from prison in October after his sentence was reduced recently by 11 months, the Dui Hua Foundation said.

The San Francisco-based organisation that defends prisoners' rights said in a statement that 51-year-old Miao will leave the Yanqing Prison in Beijing on October 15 after 27 years of imprisonment.

"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," said John Kamm, Executive Director of The Dui Hua Foundation.

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Miao, who worked in a factory, was only 25 years old when he was arrested, along with his four friends, on June 4, 1989, shortly after the Chinese government brought tanks into the streets of Beijing to end the almost seven-week long pro-democracy protests.

His arrest took place after the death of hundreds or thousands - according to different sources - of students and protesters, who had gathered at the iconic Tiananmen Square, demanding democratic reforms and an end to rampant corruption.

After clashing with the army along with other workers, Miao was accused of arson for allegedly throwing a trash can at a burning tank.

A Chinese court sentenced him to death in 1989 but it was commuted to life sentence in 1991 and since then the courts have reduced his sentence thrice.

Miao's ill health might have led to the recent reduction in sentence.

According to Dui Hua Foundation, Miao suffers from hepatitis B and schizophrenia and was moved to Yanqing prison in 2003, which has a ward for sick, elderly, and disabled prisoners.


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Published 3 May 2016 at 7:04pm
Source: AAP