About the Individual: Hu Shigen
Overview: In Prison for Commemorating June Fourth
Hu Shigen is a veteran democracy advocate who sought to increase awareness and call for a government reassessment of the crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement. Hu is one of the "Beijing Fifteen," the largest group of labor and democracy activists to be tried and sentenced after 1989. He is married and has one daughter. Hu is currently in his 16th year of imprisonment at the Beijing No. 2 Prison, where he reportedly has been tortured and is in poor health.
In April and May of 1992, Hu planned some June Fourth memorial ceremonies across major cities in China with other fellow activists. He was detained on May 27, 1992, held for four months without charge, and formally arrested on September 27, 1992. On December 16, 1994, Hu was convicted of "organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group" and "counterrevolutionary propaganda instigation," crimes that were abolished in the 1997 revision of the Criminal Law, due to his involvement with the China Freedom and Democracy Party (CFDP), the China Free Trade Union (CFTU), and the China Progressive Alliance (CPA), as well as for drafting documents arguing that the Communist Party of China had stripped Chinese people of their basic human rights and workers the right to form independent labor unions. He received a heavy sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and subsequent deprivation of political rights for five years. On June 14, 1995, the appeal court upheld the original sentence.
Current Status: Ill-treatment and Poor Health
Hu has suffered harsh conditions in prison. Because he did not confess to any wrongdoing for the first 12 years of his sentence, Hu was treated worse than other prisoners and barred from having the same family visitation or telephone privileges. He eventually confessed his guilt in April 2003 in hopes of a sentence reduction. He has been placed under close supervision and monitored by other prisoners who record his movements and keep him from talking to others.
Hu suffers from heart problems, hypertension, respiratory problems, back pains, and numbness on the right side of his body. He also suffers from severe fatigue and chronic migraines, as well as liver, stomach, and ear problems. A broken finger has become permanently disfigured due to his lack of medical treatment. Several vertebrae in Hu's back are dislocated. While treatment has been provided by prison medical staff, the services and medication are limited. Requests for medical parole by his family have been repeatedly ignored by authorities.
Hu Shigen's sentence was reduced by seven months in December 2005, three weeks after he was interviewed by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak. In early 2007, his sentence was reduced by an additional 17 months.
Relevant UN and Other Official Statements
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined on November 25, 2005, that Hu's detention was arbitrary, and directed the Chinese government to remedy the situation by offering Hu an early release in order to conform with the norms and principles incorporated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Working Group also directed the Chinese government to ratify, as soon as possible, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (Hu Shigen v. China, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, A/HRC/4/40/Add.1 (2007))
After visiting Hu Shigen in November 2005 during his mission to China, Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak recommended that authorities grant Hu the same rights as other prisoners, in particular the ability to make phone calls to his family. The Special Rapporteur further stated that refusal to confess should not be an excuse to impose additional punishment on a detainee and that Hu should be ensured access to adequate medical care. The Special Rapporteur also appealed to the Chinese government to release Hu immediately, as the crimes for which Hu is serving prison terms do not exist in the current Criminal Law in China. (Hu Shigen v. China, Special Rapporteur on Torture, E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6 (2006))
Hu Shigen's Story
Hu Shigen was born in Nanchang, Jiangxi in 1954. He is married to Wang Nianci and they have a daughter. In 1979 Hu was admitted to Peking University and graduated with a degree in Chinese in 1983. He continued at Peking University by completing his graduate studies. Upon completing his master's degree, he secured a position as a lecturer at the Beijing Language and Culture Institute (now Beijing Language and Culture University). He was eventually promoted to instructor and deputy department chairperson.
Hu was active in planning June Fourth memorial activities and calling for a reassessment of the government's violent crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement. In April and May of 1992, he and other activists, including Liu Jingsheng, Kang Yuchun, and Liu Zhigan, planned to distribute leaflets regarding June Fourth in major cities across China before the 1992 anniversary. According to the court verdict, the leaflet drafted by Liu Jingsheng, "Long Live the Martyrs of June Fourth" (六‧四英魂永存), smeared the authoritarian regime.
Hu was active in political parties as well, establishing the China Freedom and Democracy Party (CFDP) with Wang Guoqi in 1991 and joining the Chinese Progressive Alliance in October 1991. Later that year, Hu joined Liu Jingsheng, Gao Yuxiang, and others to form the China Free Trade Union (CFTU) Preparatory Committee.
Hu drafted a number of key documents for the CFDP and the CFTU, which later came under fire, including the "CFDP Statement on China's Human Rights Problem" (中国自由民主党《关于中国人权问题的声明》), the "Proposal for the Preparatory Committee of the Free Labor Union of China," (中国自由工会筹备委员会倡议书), and "On Free Trade Unions" (关于自由工会). Hu's court verdict alleged that he vilified the Chinese Communist Party, saying that it had imposed an authoritarian rule and stripped workers of their right to organize free trade unions. These documents were allegedly disseminated throughout various cities.
The government strongly opposed the establishment of the CFDP, which was composed largely of university teachers and students in addition to over 100 Party members. The participation of CFDP members in June Fourth memorial activities exacerbated the group's sensitivity in the eyes of the authorities, who ultimately arrested and imprisoned Hu Shigen and dozens of other members.
Detention and arrest
Hu was detained on May 27, 1992, and was formally arrested on September 27, 1992. A branch of the Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate indicted him for "organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group" and "counterrevolutionary propaganda instigation," crimes that were abolished in the 1997 revision of the Criminal Law. After reportedly being held incommunicado and without access to legal representation for two years, Hu's trial finally began in July 1994. The trial was marred by a series of irregularities. On December 16, 1994, the Beijing Municipal Intermediate People's Court convicted Hu and sentenced him to 20 years in prison and a subsequent five years' deprivation of political rights. This was the longest fixed-term sentence and deprivation of political rights possible under the 1979 Chinese Criminal Law. Hu was tried in conjunction with 14 individuals involved in the formation of the CFDP and CFTU. Many, including Kang Yuchun, Liu Jingsheng, and Wang Guoqi, have faced or are facing long prison sentences. Hu appealed the verdict, but the Beijing Municipal Higher People's Court rejected his appeal and upheld the original sentence. Initially due for release on May 26, 2010, Hu Shigen was released on August 26, 2008 after serving sixteen years of a twenty-year sentence.
Following his release, Hu is subject to a five-year deprivation of his political rights, imposed at the time of his initial sentencing. Under Chinese Criminal Law, deprivation of political rights means that Hu is formally deprived of his right to exercise free speech, right of association, and right of assembly, as well as his eligibility to hold a position in a State organ or to hold a "leading position" in any State-owned company, enterprise, institution or people's organization.
HRIC Advocacy and Media Work on Hu Shigen
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Updated News Articles
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 These two crimes were eliminated from the revised Criminal Law in 1997, but individuals convicted of these crimes will remain in prison until the completion of their sentence. No reviews were conducted, however, despite precedents to carry out such reviews in similar circumstances both in China and elsewhere.
 Beijing Municipal Intermediate People's Court, Criminal Ruling [北京市中级人民法院【刑事判决书】], No. 1583 (1994) [(1994) 中刑初字第1583号], December 16, 1994, at 20-21.
 Beijing Municipal Higher People's Court, Criminal Ruling [北京市高级人民法院【刑事裁定书】], No. 386 (1994) [(1994) 高刑终字第386号], June 14, 1995
 Commission on Human Rights, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment," U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6 (2006) (Special Rapporteur, Manfred Nowak), p.41, http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=E/CN.4/2006/6/ADD.6.
 "New Sentence Reduction for Long-Serving Chinese 'Counterrevolutionary,'" Dui Hua News, August 6, 2007, http://www.duihua.org/2007/08/new-sentence-reduction-for-long-serving.html.
 The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is a "Special Procedure" of the Human Rights Council, the main human rights body at the UN. It investigates cases of arbitrary deprivation of liberty around the world, and acts on information submitted by governments, international bodies, NGOs, and individuals. In its China cases, the Working Group has examined issues related to the lack of an independent judiciary and imprisonment on the basis of exercising freedom of expression. The Working Group has visited China twice (in 1997 and 2004), where it met with government officials, lawyers, judges, prison officials, and prisoners. Although it has made many recommendations, few have been implemented. For more information on the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, please see http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/7/b/mard.htm.
 Beijing Municipal Intermediate People's Court, Criminal Ruling [北京市中级人民法院【刑事判决书】], No. 1583 (1994) [(1994) 中刑初字第1583号], December 16, 1994, at 14-15.
 Beijing Municipal Higher People's Court, Criminal Ruling [北京市高级人民法院【刑事裁定书】], No. 386 (1994) [(1994) 高刑终字第386号], June 14, 1995.
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