CCS met the announcement of the trial of the physics graduate student Liu Gang on charges of “conspiracy to overthrow the Government” with cables to Premier Li Peng and leaders of Chinese science. Our message of distress at Liu’s being tried for his nonviolent participation in the democracy movement fell on deaf ears as the trial proceeded and culminated in a six- year sentence.
This sad outcome prompted our circulating a petition which drew 400 endorsements from participants at the March Meeting of the American Physical Society. It argued for the release from prison of all those accused
of “counter-revolutionary” offenses, including Liu. We supplemented this by urging key members of Congress to press our Secretary of State to intervene with Chinese authorities. He did, as did the President, during a face-to-face with Premier Li Peng. We seized the opportunity at subsequent scientific meetings, including one in Beijing, to spotlight Liu’s plight and conduct petition drives pleading his case along with others.
As Liu’s health deteriorated under a strict punishment regimen, we appealed for a halt to his mistreatment to the director of the labor camp and to the governor of Liaoning Province where it was located. We followed up with letters to the Ministry of Justice and the Science and Technology Commission calling for an end to all corporal punishment and the provision of medical care, to be followed by Liu’s early release on medical parole.
Nevertheless Liu served a complete six-year prison term and was relegated to two years’ deprivation of political rights, during which he suffered further abuse. Intense outside pressure to which we contributed resulted in his being allowed to leave the country.
Today Liu Gang is pursuing his studies at Columbia University in New York City and is deeply involved in helping colleagues still suffering for their advocacy of change in China.