05/19/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Liu Zhihua, the last known prisoner jailed over Tiananmen protest, is freed

Mr Liu organised a strike to protest the 4 June crackdown in Tiananmen Square. Human rights groups say however that at least 30 more people are still in jail for the same reason despite the fact that the authorities have said nothing about them. By contrast, the latter fear the Mothers of Tiananmen meeting to commemorate the death of their children.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Liu Zhihua has been released. He is the last known prisoner who was jailed on charges of hooliganism for protesting the crackdown that suppressed the democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989 which left hundreds if not thousands dead. At the same time dozens of elderly parents who had a son or daughter killed or jailed met on Sunday in Beijing to demand justice.

Liu Zhihua was one of four workers who organised a strike to protest the crackdown in the capital. The strike took place at state-owned Xiangtan Electrical Machinery Works, where more than 10,000 people were employed, in the town of Xiangtan, the home town of Mao Zedong, founder of Communist China,

Mr Liu, who was 24 at the time, was accused of inciting crowds with anti-government speeches and given a life sentence.

The Dui Hua Foundation reported his release, saying that his sentenced was commuted several times and that he was released in January from Loudi prison, a somewhat secret incarceration facility in Hunan, but word of it only trickled out last week.

The Foundation believes that more people remain in prison for clashing with China's military during the Tiananmen massacre even though their arrest has never been confirmed.

In Chaoyang more than 50 parents met on Sunday to commemorate their children who died on 4 June.

Organiser Zhang Xianling, who lost her 19-year-old son Wang Nan, told the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy that the authorities allowed them to meet on condition that “no outsider”, especially journalists, be allowed to take part even if it was only a commemoration.

“We began observing silence and bowing in front of our children's photos,” Ms Zhang said.

Ding Zilin, founder of the Tiananmen Mothers organisation, was supposed to attend the ceremony but was not allowed to come.

“Ding Zilin (pictured) was supposed to deliver a memorial speech, but police wouldn't let her leave home,” Ms Zhang said, adding that others will not be able to leave home to observe the 20th anniversary of 4 June.

Tan Shuqin, 70, who lost her daughter, made the memorial speech on behalf of all the parents.

“Our courageous, intelligent, heroic and innocent sons and daughters: we have by no means forgotten you all although 20 years have passed,” she said.

For its part the Chinese government continues to claim that the young people involved in the Tiananmen Square movement were “counterrevolutionaries”, not “heroes.”

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