Chinese dissident Tan Zuoren has been released after serving his full, five-year term in prison. He was sentenced in February 2010 for “inciting subversion of state power” when he criticised the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement of June 1989.
More recently, the writer and campaigner famously investigated whether poor construction led to the deaths of thousands of children when their schools collapsed in a 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province in south-west China.
According to Amnesty International, Tan Zuoren’s arrest was directly related to his inquiry into the construction quality of the schools. The European Union had requested the release of the activist, denouncing his trial as a “flawed procedure”.
Official statistics list 5,335 children as killed or missing from 7,000 schools destroyed in the 8.0-magnitude disaster. After the tragedy, grieving parents asked why the buildings their children were in collapsed so easily in comparison to other official buildings, some of which had remained standing. They angrily accused authorities of allowing corruption to stand in the way of construction safety standards.
Also heavily involved in the school investigation was notoriously rebellious artist Ai Weiwei. He was reportedly prevented from testifying at Tan’s trial, which only lasted a few minutes, according to Tan’s lawyer.
Image credit: Remko Tanis on flickr