China activist risks jail with letter to Obama
A Chinese dissident recently freed after eight years in jail said he is seeking President Barack Obama's help in gaining medical parole for two friends jailed with him for forming a political study group.world Updated: Nov 05, 2009 22:11 IST
A Chinese dissident recently freed after eight years in jail said, on Thursday, he is seeking President Barack Obama's help in gaining medical parole for two friends jailed with him for forming a political study group.
The appeal, made in an open letter, could result in the re-arrest of Yang Zili because the terms of his parole ban him from political activities. But Yang said he felt an obligation to help his friends, who are ill, and Obama may be able to raise their cases with Chinese leaders during his trip to Beijing next month.
"I have no choice but to take this risk because I feel I have a responsibility to help them," Yang said in an interview.
Yang, Zhang Honghai, Xu Wei and Jin Haike were jailed in 2001 for taking part in the New Youth Study Group, an informal group of young professionals and academics that met privately to discuss democratic reform.
The harsh sentences given to the group, known as the "four gentlemen of Beijing," were a sign to many that China's intolerance of political dissent remained entrenched despite dramatic moves to reshape and liberalise the country's economic system.
Yang and Zhang were released in March but Jin and Xu are serving the final two years of their 10-year jail terms.
"They are both seriously ill. One has mental problems, and the other has been very sick ever since he had an appendectomy that went badly," Yang said.