11/29/2010, 00.00
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Qin Yongmin, cofounder of the China Democracy Party, freed today

He was in prison for 12 years for promoting democratic reform in his country. Altogether, he spent 22 years behind bars. Police seize all his prison notes upon his release, warning him against talking to journalists and other dissidents.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Qin Yongmin, co-founder of the China Democracy Party (CDP), was released today after spending 12 years in prison for endangering state security. At the moment of his release, officers seized his prison notes and warned him not to speak to reporters or meet other dissidents.

Once home in Wuhan, his home city, Qin told friends by phone that he “tried to tell them it was illegal but they just stole everything I had written.”

China's ruling Communist Party brooks no opposition and the country's beleaguered dissidents have been under especially heavy pressure following the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.

Liu's wife, Liu Xia, and many of his colleagues are under a form of undeclared house arrest, a condition that is not expected to end until after the 10 December award ceremony in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

Qin was one of the founders of the China Democracy Party as an alternative to the one party state led by the Chinese Communist Party. He saw it as a way to reform the state from within.

In 1998, he and others tried to have the new party registered, but were instead accused of anti-state activity and jailed.

Two other cofounders, Wang Youcai and Xu Wenli, were also convicted on the same charges but were given lighter sentences. After years of US diplomatic pressures, they were exiled to the United States.

Qin (pictured in 1993) is now 57-year-old. He was given eight years for “anti-revolutionary propaganda and subversion” in 1981 for his activities in the pro-democracy movement.

In 1993, he was given two years of hard labour in a ‘re-education-through-labour’ camp for writing a ‘Peace Charter’.

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