China frees surgeon after 're-education'
London Guardian | July 21 2004
The Chinese military surgeon who exposed the government's cover-up of the Sars crisis was released yesterday after seven weeks of "political re-education", his family said.
Jiang Yanyong, 72, a semi-retired general in the People's Liberation Army, had been detained at a secret location where he was forced to undergo daily study sessions aimed to make him renounce a critical letter he had written about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
It was unclear last night whether he had signed a letter of contrition to secure his freedom.
Dr Jiang's family said he was in good health, but forbidden to talk to the media without the prior approval of his superiors at the No 301 military hospital in Beijing.
Dr Jiang and his wife, Hua Zhongwei, were detained on June 1 while going to the US embassy, where they were applying for visas to visit their California-based daughter.
They were among dozens of dissenters who were removed from public view or held under house arrest in the run-up to the politically sensitive 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4.
Ms Hua and most of the others were released within two weeks, but Dr Jiang was held for what sympathisers called "brainwashing", which would have required authorisation by Jiang Zemin, the head of the military .
The detention and release have not been reported in the domestic media, which is controlled by the propaganda ministry.
Disclosure would have hurt the communist leadership, because the surgeon is a national hero. His decision to blow the whistle on the Sars cover-up led to the resignations of the health minister and the mayor of Beijing, and was praised on the front pages of state-run publications.
But Dr Jiang upset hardliners earlier this year, when his letter in praise of the demonstrators who were slaughtered in 1989 was leaked to the foreign media.
It was the highest-known call for a reassessment of the massacre. Supporters fear that Dr Jiang's enemies are trying to undermine his standing, so that they can press charges against him.Yesterday, his relatives made no mention of such concerns. They said only that the doctor had been released because his study sessions had finished.
Beijing 'brainwashes Sars hero'