I received the news of the releases of three prisoners of conscience from Amnesty International. If you ever wonder about who is the woman in the header image of this blog, that’s Mao Hengfeng.

Mao Hengfeng was released on November 29, 2008 after two-and-a-half years in prison. She is in very poor health as a result of frequent torture; she now suffers from hearing loss, high blood pressure and chronic stomach pains, among other ailments. Mao was ill-treated right up to the day of her release and has suffered mentally as well as physically. She has considered suicide, but was encouraged by messages of international support, including those from Amnesty International members. Mao is currently resting and receiving medical treatment. She is still considered to be at high risk of detention, and AI will continue to monitor her situation.

Ye Guozhu was released on October 15, 2008. His brother, Ye Guoqiang, said that Ye Guozhu was forced to sign an agreement accepting compensation for his eviction. Ye was threatened with new charges and continued detention if he did not sign, and was pressured into stating that he did not require a lawyer during his time in custody. During his four years in prison, Ye Guozhu’s health has deteriorated. He was forbidden from seeing his elderly mother and father, and his mother died while he was in custody. Ye has been exhausted by his ordeal and is currently resting and receiving medical treatment.

Bu Dongwei, also known as David Bu, was released from the Tuanhe “re-education through labor” (RTL) facility in mid-July, approximately 4 months before the end of his term. Bu Dongwei was serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in connection with his activities as a member of the Falun Gong movement, which is banned in China. Bu has now left China and rejoined his wife in the LA area.