Hu Shigen

Hu Shigen, a pro-democracy activist and renowned church elder, currently waits out a seven-and-a-half year sentence on falsified charges of “subversion of state power.”

Following his graduation from China’s elite Peking University, Hu took a professorial position within the capital. In the wake of the notorious Tiananmen Square crackdown, when the Communist Party massacred groups of pro-democracy students and advocates who had converged in front of an ancient royal palace to call for political reform, Hu joined a fledgling political movement. When China tried to stifle news of the violence, Hu helped plan to disseminate fliers on the tragedy’s third anniversary and served 16 years in prison for leading a so-called “counterrevolutionary ring.”

Following his incarceration, he led several underground churches and served as an elder.

Hu vanished during a nationwide crackdown on human rights defenders on July 9, 2015. On Jan. 8, 2016, his family received an arrest notice stating that authorities suspected him of “subversion of state power.” Using a picture of his baptism as evidence of his supposed guilt, a court convicted him and sentenced him to seven-and-a-half years in prison on Aug. 3, 2016.

Officials promised to release Hu Shigen on medical parole after the trial of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang in January of 2019. He was not released, and his family continued to beg officials for parole on account of his poor health. Hu Shigen suffered multiple severe medical conditions including kidney failure, a heart attack, and continued chest pains. Because of his age, there is justified concern that he would not survive prison without proper treatment. In December of 2020, authorities began to process his parole. However, Hu Shigen has not yet been released to receive adequate medical attention.