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Dissident writer released after 16 years in prison

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN welcomes the release of University lecturer, political activist and dissident writer Hu Shigen on 26 of August 2008, after spending sixteen years and three months in prison. International PEN remains concerned that he remains under restrictions, and reminds the Chinese authorities of their obligations to Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

According to International PEN's information, Hu Shigen, now aged 53, was arrested on 27 September 1992, and convicted on 16 December 1994 by the Beijing Intermediate People's Court of 'leading a counterrevolutionary organisation' and 'counterrevolutionary propaganda'.

Hu Shigen was sentenced to twenty years in prison and a subsequent five years of deprivation of political rights. He was amongst dozens of China Freedom and Democracy Party (CFDP) and China Free Trade Union (CFTU) members to be detained in April and May 1992 for planning 4 June 1989 memorial activities in many of China's major cities.

As a founding member of both the CFDP and CFTU, Hu Shigen drafted a number of key documents for both parties and was active in calling for government accountability for the violent suppression of the Democracy Movement in June 1989. Reports suggest that he is in poor health after many years of ill-treatment in jail.

Hu Shigen's sentence has been reduced several times in prison, most recently in May 2008. Although now released, Hu Shigen remains formally deprived of his right to exercise free speech, right of association and of free assembly, and his eligibility to work for a state institution.
Hu Shigen is honorary member of: English PEN, Independent Chinese PEN, PEN Canada.

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