My Life in Prison: Memoirs of a Chinese Political Dissident

My Life in Prison: Memoirs of a Chinese Political Dissident

by Jiang Qisheng

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My Life in Prison: Memoirs of a Chinese Political Dissident by Jiang Qisheng

In 1999, leading dissident Jiang Qisheng was given a four-year sentence for inviting the Chinese people to light candles to honor the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Drawn with indignant intensity from Jiang’s time in prison, his memoirs record chilling observations of the modern “civilized” Beijing jails in which he was held.

While awaiting a farcical trial, he shares a cell crowded with common criminals, among them a murderer who had dismembered his victim with an electric saw. Along with intriguing vignettes of his fellow prisoners, Jiang describes the brutal conditions they all faced: inmates led to execution with necks corded to silence them, savage fights between prisoners, and rare moments of unexpected kindness. He describes the frequent beatings by guards, the use of the electric prod, and a dehumanizing regime aimed at humiliation and the destruction of individual personality.

After he is sentenced, conditions are even worse. Prisoners, used as slave labor, become bitterly exhausted and emaciated, while facing new depths of mental degradation. Throughout, however, Jiang retains his dignity, his detached and perceptive intelligence, and his concern for his fellow sufferers, guards included.

Written in a light and ironic style, Jiang’s stories of prisoners, many of whom come from the most primitive and impoverished layer of Chinese society, are related with vividness, insight, humor, and compassion. Dismayed by their fatalistic docility, the author asks, “Where lies China’s hope? Can democracy ever take root in China?” The answers, surely, lie in the voices of those, like Jiang, who dare to speak out.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442212244
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 02/16/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 877 KB

About the Author

Jiang Qisheng was born in 1948. After ten years of hard agricultural labor during the Cultural Revolution, he obtained a master’s degree in aerodynamics, which led to a university teaching post and work toward a PhD. However, for his involvement in the Tiananmen student prodemocracy movement, he was jailed for 18 months. Denied employment on release, he became a freelance writer. In 1999 he was given a longer sentence, which is the subject of this book. With Nobel prizewinner Liu Xiaobo, Jiang was one of the drafters of Charter 08 and remains an outspoken writer on civil liberties and human rights in China.

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