11/09/2017, 17.56
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Tiananmen activist Yang Tongyan dies of cancer not long after his release from prison

He was operated in August after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Human rights groups slam Beijing for releasing activists a few weeks before their death.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Yang Tongyan, a 56-year-old dissident writer, died two days ago from an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Yang had been diagnosed in August and released on a medical parole from Nanjing Prison, undergoing an operation on 23 August to remove a brain tumour. He had nearly completed his 12-year sentence.

He was the 2008 recipient of PEN’s Freedom to Write Award, and was a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre.

Before he was convicted in 2006 for posting anti-government articles online, he had already spent a decade in prison for “counter-revolutionary” crimes and participation in the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests.

Neither Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, where Yang was treated, nor Nanjing Prison had anything to say about the case.

When asked whether Yang had requested overseas treatment before his death, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not have any information.

Human rights groups have slammed Beijing for releasing critically ill activists only a few weeks before their death with the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo as the most notable example this summer.

In another case, the authorities detained activist Cao Shunli in 2013 as she attempted to travel to Geneva ahead of a United Nations review of China’s rights record. She died in custody after she was denied medical treatment.

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