Hu Shigen


Su Shigen


BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- A Chinese dissident who has served 13 years of a 20-year jail sentence for forming an independent political party is in bad health and friends fear he will not live to be released, a rights group has said.

Hu Shigen, who helped to found the China Freedom and Democracy Party in 1991, was arrested in 1992 after planning activities to commemorate those killed in the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

He was convicted of counter-revolution, or subversion, in 1994.

Hu, who turns 50 this month, was already nearly blind, a source told Reuters.

The New York-based watchdog Human Rights in China said Wednesday Hu "has been transformed into an old man as a result of his harsh treatment in prison."

"Hu Shigen is in such poor health that friends fear he will not live to see his release, scheduled for 2012," the group said.

He suffered from malnutrition, intestinal problems, back pain and had a disfigured finger that was broken and never treated, it said.

"We are very concerned over reports of Hu Shigen's poor health and ill treatment," Human Rights in China president Liu Qing said in a statement.

China has since abolished the crime of counter-revolution.