Chinese Authorities released prominent dissident and AIDS activist Hu Jia on Sunday after three years behind bars, according to Reuters. Mr. Hu was detained by Chinese authorities in December 2007 after appearing before a European Parliament hearing on human rights in China. At 2:40 am Beijing time Sunday he arrived at his home where his wife, political activist Zeng Jinyan, and his parents were waiting. Ms. Zeng announced his arrival via Twitter and Reuters interviewed his mother who reported on his health: "It's so so. He was in a very good mood. The first thing he did after coming home was to take a bath. Then he had a meal."
Hu's release closely follows that of prominent artist Ai Weiwei who was released on Wednesday after a three-month detention for what authorities claimed was tax-evasion investigation. Both Ai and Hu were released in conjunction with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's trip to Europe this week. Attention has understandably been focused on the two men who enjoy a large international following and though both have been ordered not to speak to the media, their releases have been widely reported. Lest China distract the media with token releases, here are five Chinese dissidents who have remained behind bars and recently out of public view:
- Huang Qi is a webmaster and Human Right Activist who was arrested in 2008 for "illegal possession of state secrets" after writing and publishing an article on behalf of parents who lost children in the the 2008 earthquakes in Sichuan Provence. He had previously served five years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power." In the 2008 article Huang Qi called for an investigation into the shoddy construction of many schools that collapsed in the Sichuan earthquakes. He is currently serving a 3 year sentence.
- Qi Chonhuai is a journalist who was detained in 2007 for writing about official corruption in the Communist party. In May of 2008 he was convicted of "extortion and blackmail" and sentenced to four years in prison. The Huffigton post now reports that Qi was sentenced to eight more years in prison on Friday, just two weeks shy of his scheduled release date, this time for "embezzlement."
- Cheng Jianping is a political dissident and human rights activist who was sentenced in November 2010 to a "year of re-education through labor" for posting a sarcastic comment on Twitter. The comment, "Charge, angry youth!" was meant as a joke to criticize Chinese protesters who were at the time demonstrating agiant Japan because of a conflict over a group of islands in the East China Sea. She is detained at the Shibali River women's labour camp in central Henan provence and is scheduled for release in November 2011
- Liu Xiaobo is a literary critic, professor, and leading human rights activist who played a key role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. He is also an author and signatory of Charter 08, a manifesto published and signed by 350 Chinese intellectuals in December of 2008 that called for, among other demands, separation of government powers, a multi-party political system, and a guarantee of human rights. In a three-hour trialon December 25th, 2009 Mr. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion" on charges stemming from his involvement with Charter 08. In December 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Price though the Chinese government kept him at Jinzhou prison in northeastern China, refusing to allow Mr. Liu to visit Oslo to collect the prize.
- Gao Zhisheng is a human rights attorney and political dissident with a history of defending religious minorities and exposing alleged human rights abuses in China. In August 2006 he was detained and the following December he was sentenced to three years in prison. In April of 2010 he described his imprisonment and occasional torture to the Associates Press, "that degree of cruelty, there's no way to recount it." He asked that his account not be released unless he was captured again. Two weeks following the interview, Gao disappeared again in Xinjiang province in western China and remains missing.