China set to free ‘last Tiananmen prisoner’ – but he’ll be frail and ill, rights group says
But Miao Deshun, jailed for life at 24, is said to be suffering hepatitis B and schizophrenia
A rights group said the country’s last-known prisoner held in relation to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests would be released on Saturday, but he would face freedom as a frail and mentally ill man.
Miao Deshun’s release follows an 11-month sentence reduction, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for the rights of political prisoners in China.
Dui Hua executive director John Kamm said the 51-year-old former factory worker was severely ill after spending more than half his life behind bars.
Miao’s release date could not be independently verified. The authorities did not respond to requests for comment.
Troops converged in Beijing to quash pro-democracy protests on the night of June 3-4, 1989, killing hundreds of people.
Miao, then 24, received a suspended death sentence for arson after he was convicted of throwing a basket at a burning tank with other four workers during the protest. His sentence was commuted to life in jail in 1991 and reduced several times afterwards.
In May, Dui Hua said Miao’s term had been cut by 11 months for good behaviour. It said he would be released from Beijing’s Yanqing Prison on Saturday.
Miao had never admitted his wrongdoings in the protest, the foundation said at the time, quoting a former inmate.
Dui Hua also said Miao suffered from hepatitis B and schizophrenia.
Miao is widely seen as the last person to remain behind bars for his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of state-run Global Times, previously wrote in a commentary about Miao that “the life of anyone who bet on the wrong side of history weighs less than a feather”.
Additional reporting by Eva Li