The final remaining prisoner locked up for protesting in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 massacre will finally be released this year, 27 years after his conviction.
Miao Deshun was 25 when he and thousands of others took part in nonviolent protests against the economic and political climate of communist China. The military’s brutal reaction to the protest is believed to have led to the death of thousands of people.
In August 1989 Miao, 51, was sentenced to death for arson, after he and colleagues allegedly threw a basket at a burning tank. In 1991 his sentence was reduced to life, and was forced to spend time in solitary confinement.
During his imprisonment Miao saw his sentence reduced a further three times, the most recent confirming his release for 15 October 2016.
“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, the Executive Director of Dui Hua, a human rights group in the U.S. who’ve been campaigning on his case.
Adjusting to life outside of prison will be hard Miao, who suffers from schizophrenia and hepatitis B. He hasn’t had any contact with people outside of the system for many years.
In a statement confirming his release, Dui Hua said, “People who served sentences with him in the 1990s remember him as a very thin man who refused to admit wrongdoing and participate in prison labour.”
Dui Hua has been working on the release of Miao for over ten years.
The families of the victims of Tiananmen Square have not received any compensation or justice for the atrocities that happened in June 1989.
The government, who refer to the moment as a counter revolutionary riot, have outlawed public remembrance of it.
Next month marks the 27th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, and this May will be 50 years on from Chairman Mao’s revolution.