Chinese exile writer Liao Yiwu in his recent book Bullets and Opium (Simon & Schuster 2019) writes about the heavy price that the “June Fourth rioters” paid in many years of imprisonment as a result of their participation in the Chinese democracy movement and particularly their attempts to stop the murder of student in and around the center of Beijing on and about June 4, 1989. All these people are out of prison now, these thumbnail sketches from 2011 are still valuable as an historical document reminding us of the sacrifices these people made. Liao Yiwu discusses what happened to these brave opponents of tyranny in his book.
2011: Opponents of June 4 Tyranny Still in Prison
by Chinese Victims of Political and Religious Persecution Support Group
Spokesperson: Sun Liyong
It has been 22 years since June 4. According to our research there are still eight so-called thugs implicated in the event who are still in jail in Beijing.
1. Zhu Gengsheng, male, about 45 years old, after June 4 sentenced to death for the crime of counter revolutionary arson with a two year reprieve, and deprivation of political rights for life. Before his arrest, Zhu Gengsheng lived at first in a Beijing city government dormitory and then moved to the Gongzhufen area of the Haidian District. Zhu Gengsheng was sentenced to death in the first instance. The sentence was upheld on appeal but the Supreme Court in its review of the lower court sentence changed the sentence to death with a two year reprieve. After June 4, China Central Broadcasting showed a documentary of the riot on the night of June 3. The documentary has a scene of a burning tank in Tiananmen Square with a young man standing on top of it waving a banner yelling “We won!”
That young man was Zhu Gengsheng. Zhu Gengsheng’s father had been a secretary for the Nationalist government. Father was persecuted to death during the Cultural Revolution. His mother raised him and his two elder sisters alone. Zhu Gengsheng’s elder sister worked in the pharmacy at the Beijing Tongren Hospital. In 2006, his elder sister took their wheelchair-bound 80 year old mother to visit him in prison. His mother told him, “I may not be able to come anymore” and hoped that he would return home soon. Later, his two sisters took turns visiting him. Zhu Gengsheng had not married. Currently Zhu Gengsheng is serving his sentence in Beijing Prison Number Two. He still has more than three years to go on his sentence.
2. Li Yujun, male, about 45 years old, was sentenced to death with a two year reprieve for “arson” after “June 4” and deprived of political rights for life. He was sentenced for burning an army truck on June 4th in Hongmiao, in the Chaoyang District of Beijing. Li Yujun’s parents worked at Beijing Textile Factory #3. His mother died of illness before 1989, his father remarried. After Li was sentenced his father never came to see him. Li Yujun has three brothers. The eldest brother was among those who, having graduated from high school in 1966 – 1968, missed their chance for higher education, and had been sent to a production team in Harbin and settled down there. He has basically never come to visit him. His second brother worked in a factory run by a middle school in Balizhuang. Sometimes his second brother came to visit him behind his wife’s back and would give him some spending money. His third brother worked in an automobile repair shop in Huayuancun and basically didn’t pay attention to him. Most of Li Yujun’s income came from washing clothes, doing dishes for other prisoners in exchange for some soap, toothpaste and towels. The prison authorities also gave him a 5 RMB monthly subsidy. Li Yujun was not married. Li Yujun is now serving his sentence in Beijing Prison #2. He still has over three years to go on his sentence.
3. Chang Jingqiang, male, 42, after “June 4” sentenced to life imprisonment and deprived of political rights for life for the “crime of counter-revolutionary wounding” for hitting People’s Armed Police at the door of the Beijing People’s Hospital. Chang Jingqiang is an only child. His father was a furnace worker at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who because he had long worried about his son got a cerebral embolism in 2000. Since then he had trouble moving around and was under the care of his wife. In 2005 Chang’s mother died and his father also died shortly thereafter. Before Chang Jingqiang’s arrest, he lived with his parents on Zhuanta Lane in the Xicheng District of Beijing. Later, when his father’s work unit allocated housing, they moved to Zhongguancun. When their apartment in Zhongguancun was torn down in 1998, Chang’s parents moved to Doudianzhen in the Fangshan District. Before his father died, he transferred the apartment and several hundred thousand RMB leftover from their relocation to his cousin to hold for Chang Jingqiang. However, after the death of his father, the cousin never got in touch with him. Nobody knows what happened to the apartment and the money. Currently Chang Jinqiang is serving his sentence in the Fifth Brigade at Beijing Prison #2.
4. Yang Pu, male, about 45 years old, condemned to death after “June 4” for “arson” with a two year reprieve and deprived of political rights for life. On November 26, 1990, he was transferred from Prison #1 to Prison #2. In 1993, while serving in Prison #2 a prison medical examination found that he had “bone tuberculosis” in both legs. He needed a cane to walk. Later he was sent to the Binhe Hospital. In 1994, he left Prison #2 for the sick prisoner group at Chadian Prison. Later he was sent to Yanqing Prison to serve his sentence. Because he has been ill and unable to work, he has not be able to earn a reduction in his sentence. Yang Pu is currently serving his sentence at the Yanqing Prison.
5. Jiang Yaqun, male, about 70, condemned to death after ‘June 4’ for ‘arson’ with a two year reprieve and deprived of political rights for life. In late 1993, Jiang was transferred from the Prison #1 to Prison #2 to serve his sentence. Jiang is unmarried and has no family. Jiang Yaqun, with three years remaining on his sentence, is now in the Yanqing Prison.
6. Miao Deshun, male, about 45, condemned to death after ‘June 4’ for ‘arson’ with a two year reprieve and deprived of political rights for life. Prior to his arrest, he lived in the Wukesong district and is unmarried. In April 1990, a physical examination at Prison #1 found that he had viral hepatitis (three other rioters living in the same cell also had viral hepatitis: Gao Hongwei, Yu Wen, and Yang Guanghui). In late 1993, Miao was transferred from Prison #1 to Prison #2. Miao had always refused to confess so he was picked out as the top anti-reformer. In 1992, Miao’s sentence of death with reprieve was commuted to life imprisonment.
Ordinarily life imprisonment can be reduced to a specific term of imprisonment after two or three years but he had to wait five years because he refused to confess. In 1997 his life sentence was commuted to 20 years imprisonment. Miao Deshun has a stubborn nature. In order not to cause problems for his family, in1997 he refused to see his parents when they came to visit him in prison and so they didn’t come to see him after that.
His resistance to reform and his refusal to take part in reform through labor result in frequent punishment by the electric prod. The most prods used on him at once was when four team leaders simultaneously used their prods on him. But nobody ever heard him asking the team leader for mercy. Three prisoners Miao Deshun, Shi Xuezhi and Liu Quan (Liu, over 50 years old, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for hooliganism after “June 4”.) Released in 2006, Liu Quan has to this day a hole in his head where martial law troops beat him with their rifle butts) were considered the most stubborn of all the prisoners. Miao Deshun, now at the Yanqing Prison, has more than six years to go on his sentence.
7. Shi Xuezhi, male, about 70, condemned to life imprisonment after “June 4” for ‘arson’ and deprived of political rights for life. In December 1990, Shi was transferred from Prison #1 to Prison #2. In April 1993, his sentence of life imprisonment was commuted to 16 years and six months. It is worth pointing out that during the summer of 1991, the Seventh Brigade where Shi Xuezhi was imprisoned got work from the Beijing Latex Factory which was exporting latex gloves to the United States. Shi Xuezhi wrote many notes in Chinese and English and put them in the gloves. On the notes was written: “Freedom and democracy will free China; request that kind-hearted people pass on this message to the China democracy movement overseas to ask them to save us ….etc.”
After he was found out, he was put in solitary confinement, both his hands and feet were cuffed with another set of handcuff linking the two cuffs together. Shi, then more than fifty years old, was stomped on by four police and then given electric prod shocks by five other police. Each session would last over half an hour, focusing mainly in the genitals, armpits, neck and face. The shock scorched his pubic hair. Shi Xuezhi never begged the police for mercy. When the pain was at its worst, he would only instinctively utter a few “Ah, ah”. During these three months in solitary confinement, Shi Xuezhi would often be taken back to his brigade to give him electric shocks. The prison authorities used this to intimidate the other prisoners. In 1998, Shi was transferred from Prison #2 to Yanqing Prison because of his age.
8. Song Kai, male, early 50s, condemned to life imprisonment after June 4 for “counter-revolutionary wounding” and deprived of political rights for life. On June 4, at the gate of People’s Hospital, Zhang Baosheng (at the time 15 years old, sentenced to ten years imprisonment), Chang Jingqiang, Song Kai and other Beijing residents captured a military ambulance, pulled a soldier (Wang Yuwen, who was awarded the “Defender of the People’s Republic” medal that year) from the ambulance where he was beaten by the crowd. Song Kai put a bucket over Wang Yuwen’s head for fear that the soldier would be hurt too severely. After Song Kai was arrested, he was brutally beaten by a few dozen martial law soldiers at the Fengsheng police station. The beating damaged the small of his back, leaving him handicapped for life forcing him to bend forward when he walks. In 1992, his family spent some money to have him treated while on medical parole but the treatment did not succeed. In late 1993, Song Kai was transferred from Prison #1 to Prison #2. In 1998, he was transferred to the Yanqing Prison.