Dui Hua Foundation Reports New Information on Sentence Reduction and Parole for Prisoners

February 11, 2005

On February 7, 2005, the Dui Hua Foundation published details about instances of parole, sentence reduction, or potential sentence reduction for 56 Chinese political prisoners. According to the report, "On January 25, 2005, Dui Hua received parole and sentence reduction information on 56 individuals serving sentences for political offenses in China. The written information, in the form of four lists, was compiled by authoritative sources in China's central and provincial governments in response to requests for information made by the foundation's Executive Director, John Kamm, during visits to Beijing in November 2004 and January 2005."

Dui Hua reports that "nearly all" of the information is new and most of it pertains to prisoners who were previously unknown outside China. According to Dui Hua, the release of information is "the first time that the Chinese government has volunteered information about prisoners whose names are not known in the West."

The lists contain information about prisoners in 11 provinces and autonomous regions. Most of the prisoners are from Fujian province and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). According to the Dui Hua announcement, most of the prisoners from Fujian province received sentences for "endangering state security" after being convicted of espionage for Taiwan. The report describes two of the 20 Fujian cases as typical: fishermen who "make their living selling classified documents to Taiwan intelligence agencies."

According to a February 4 report by the Tibet Information Network that was based on the Dui Hua Foundation’s information, 12 of the 13 Tibetans listed were convicted of "counterrevolution" or "endangering state security." The court convicted the other Tibetan of espionage on behalf of Taiwan. The Chinese government released new information on about half of the Tibetans, and two were previously unknown to TIN, according to their report.

Dui Hua notes that the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) launched a formal investigation into parole and sentence reduction in April 2004. Two rounds of talks between U.S. and Chinese officials that focused on prisoners convicted of "counterrevolution" under the pre-1997 Chinese criminal law added "impetus" to the SPC review, according to Dui Hua. Chinese judges, prosecutors, and prison officials were aware of the talks. The second round of these U.S.- China talks occurred in March 2004, a month before the SPP began its review.