China set to free last Tiananmen prisoner

1989: Man vs. tank in Tiananmen square
1989: Man vs. tank in Tiananmen square

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Story highlights

  • Miao Deshun was 24 years old at the time of the crackdown
  • Miao's sentence has been reduced at least twice during his prison term

Beijing (CNN)China is set to release the last known prisoner of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, according to Dui Hua, a San Francisco-based human rights organization.

Miao Deshun was one of more than 1,600 people charged during the bloody crackdown on the student movement.
    Dui Hua said they had obtained documents from the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court that said he would be released from Beijing's Yanqing prison, on October 15.
    Miao's family stopped visiting him years ago according to Dui Hua, and there are no photos of him in the public domain.
    Once he's released, Miao will have his political rights "deprived" for seven years. Those are a person's right to vote, to stand for election and to freedom of speech.
    Born in China's northern Hebei province, Miao was a 24-year-old factory worker at the time of the crackdown.
    Satiral cartoonist Badiucao drew this image to mark Miao's anticipated release. There are no pictures of him in the public domain.
    He was given a suspended death sentence for arson in August 1989 for throwing a basket into a burning tank, according to Dui Hua.
    The sentence was subsequently reduced at least twice -- to life imprisonment in December 1991 and to 20 years in September 1998.
    China's state-run media has said nothing about his release.
    "Even 27 years on, remembering Tiananmen is considered subversive by the authorities," said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.
    "The Chinese government continues to run the world's largest censorship apparatus -- in part to block the spreading of sensitive historical information like the Tiananmen crackdown -- and it continues to harshly deal with the few people who bravely attempt to commemorate and pay tribute to those who died during the period."