News Alert:

Chinese AIDS Activist Believed Arrested
Heda Bayron, Beijing   VOA

10 Aug 2004

An AIDS group in China says a leading activist has disappeared in Henan Province.

Prominent AIDS activist Wan Yanhai says fellow activist Li Dan was beaten up by local authorities in Henan and taken to an undisclosed location Sunday night.

Mr. Wan, who heads the AIZHI Action Project in Beijing (who was arrested and detained in the past), says that at the time, Mr. Li and a colleague were on their way to a village where residents were planning a protest against the government's handling of the AIDS epidemic.

Mr. Li's colleague was later released, but Li Dan has not been heard from since then.

Mr. Wan says the central government is turning a blind eye on the suppression of AIDS activists by local authorities in Henan. Li Dan runs a charity helping AIDS orphans in Henan. He operated a school for AIDS orphans before it was shut down last month, reportedly after Mr. Li told authorities he was going to attend last month's World Aids Conference in Bangkok.

Li Dan's disappearance comes after four other AIDS activists from Henan were released Saturday from police custody. They were arrested as they were about to leave for Beijing to petition the national health agency about the plight of AIDS patients in the province.

Human rights groups accuse the Chinese government of trying to cover up the extent of the epidemic in Henan and of silencing AIDS protesters. In May, another Beijing-based activist, Hu Jia, was put under house arrest, preventing him from traveling to Henan where the U.S. ambassador Clark Randt was visiting.

Henan has one of the biggest AIDS outbreaks in China. In the 1990's, thousands of farmers became infected with HIV - the virus that causes AIDS - after selling blood to unsanitary blood collection centers.

Until last year, the government denied there was an AIDS problem in China. Now, Beijing says there are 840,000 people with HIV and 80,000 with full-blown AIDS. But the number is believed to be higher. The United Nations says the number of people with AIDS in China could rise to 10 million by 2020 if aggressive prevention measures are not taken.

lastest news:  Li Dan has been reported released, but beatened by "thugs"
(further updates when received)
.


Hold Beijing to account for its AIDS coverup

by Sara Davis   International Herald Tribune
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Before the 2008 Olympics

NEW YORK At the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games on Sunday, Athens will pass the Olympic flag to China and officially begin the countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But while China uses the Olympic flag to polish its international image and attract global investment, local officials in China continue to cover up one of the world's worst AIDS epidemics.

China today faces an exploding AIDS crisis. Officially, China admits to 840,000 people living with the AIDS virus, but doctors say there are a million in Henan Province alone. In Henan, as elsewhere in rural China, unsafe blood collection centers run by government officials in the 1990s spread the AIDS virus to villagers who sold their blood. Henan officials have long tried to cover up the epidemic, jailing AIDS activists and expelling journalists who tried to tell the truth.

Whole villages in Henan are dying, leaving behind impoverished orphans. Many cannot afford school fees, and those who can are sometimes turned away by schools that fear AIDS. In the midst of this crisis, student volunteers and grass-roots collectives have tried to fill the gap. Pooling resources and energy, they have established small-scale programs to help the kids. Some, like the founders of the Hong Kong-based Chi Heng Foundation, pay school fees for children whose parents have the AIDS virus. Others, like Li Dan, 26, have set up alternative boarding schools. The Orchid School in Shangqiu, an especially hard-hit Henan city, has 22 students aged from 7 to 14.

Instead of encouraging these programs, however, local Henan officials resent them for attracting international attention to the province's AIDS crisis and to the government's failure to address it. In July, authorities forcibly shut down the Orchid School.

On July 9, according to an eye-witness account given to Human Rights Watch and reports published on the Internet, the provincial government sent at least 100 police officers and officials to seize the 22 children and send them back to their village. The police locked staff and volunteers in a dormitory and chased the children, screaming and crying, through the building. Relatives of the children begged the police to stop; one outraged mother struck an officer. The police retreated, and school staff sent the children back home.

A few days later, the police detained Wang Guofeng and Li Suzhi, an HIV-positive couple who had been community liaisons for the school. The police held Wang and Li for a month on suspicion of incitement, and their health reportedly suffered because of lack of adequate nutrition or antiretroviral treatment. Meanwhile, Li Dan posted messages on his Web site urging his volunteers to stay calm and he led an international campaign to press for the release of Wang and Li. On Aug. 8, the police released Wang and Li on bail but detained Li Dan. After they let him go the following day, Li was beaten by a group of thugs who warned him to stop making trouble.

This series of incidents is part of a pattern of state-sanctioned harassment of grass-roots AIDS outreach programs in Henan. The Orchid School is the third nonprofit facility for children affected by AIDS to be closed by the Henan government this year. In recent years, whenever a senior Chinese or international official has visited Henan, local officials have jailed AIDS activists to stop them protesting. Many have alleged pervasive official corruption and misuse of funds.

Senior government officials in Beijing have taken positive steps on AIDS, condemning discrimination against people with the AIDS virus and promising antiretroviral treatment to many. But provincial officials remain a serious obstacle to change.

The problem is clear: The same officials who profited from the sale of blood and covered up the AIDS epidemic are now administering domestic and international aid funds. The foxes are guarding the hen house.

Despite its new promises, Beijing seems unable or unwilling to bring the Henan government under control. Beijing should require the Henan authorities to re-open the Orchid School and encourage similar nonprofit programs. The international community must demand that Beijing clean up the Henan government before the 2008 Olympics. That would truly give everyone something to cheer about.

Sara Davis tracks China for Human Rights Watch.

Chinese police detain four HIV villagers -- activist

14 Jul 2004

By Tan Ee Lyn

BANGKOK, July 14 (Reuters) - Chinese police have detained four HIV infected villagers in the AIDS-ravaged province of Henan after they tried to draw the attention of higher authorities to their plight, an activist said on Wednesday.

Beijing has pledged in recent months to give more treatment and help to afflicted citizens and their families, but these promises often ring hollow on the ground. Many people are still deprived of medicine and schooling.

Two of those detained, husband Wang Guofeng and wife Li Suzhi, were rounded up by police on Monday as they were making their way to the railway station in Shangqiu city to catch a train to Beijing, AIDS activist Li Dan told Reuters.

"They were planning to travel to Beijing to petition the health department. They are very unhappy that the promises that Beijing made were never kept," Li said.

"They are angry at how their childrens' school was shut and how they have not been given all the help that has been promised to them," Li said by telephone from Beijing.

Last week, authorities in Shangqiu city shut the Orchid School that Li managed after he told them that he was going to Bangkok to join other activists in rallies and protests at the 15th International AIDS Conference in the Thai capital.

Li started the school late last year for children who were orphaned by AIDS or who had parents suffering from the disease.

TRAGIC LEGACY

All four people detained in Henan were infected with HIV after they, like many other villagers, sold their blood in the 1990s in what later turned out to be botched schemes, Li said.

Police and government officials in Shangqiu had no comment on the allegations.

Activists estimate that a million people were infected in the central Chinese province through selling blood, although the government says there are only 840,000 HIV/AIDS cases in the whole country.

The disease spread in Henan after clinics, many of which activists claim were backed by government officials, offered to pay farmers for blood.

After plasma was extracted from their blood, farmers would be reinjected with blood that had been pooled with other donors, unwittingly infecting them with the HIV virus.

China has since shut these blood selling stations, but some of them are still operating illegally.

All four detainees had often helped Li get in touch with other AIDS victims and their families, a fact that was well known among village and city officials there, the activist said.

The other two people, both men, were rounded up last Friday after they got into an argument with police at a hospital.

They had turned up at the hospital hoping to petition Chinese President Hu Jintao when rumours spread that he was visiting the premises.

"All four of them are angry because many city officials have been involved in the blood-selling schemes but none of them have been brought to justice," Li said.

The daughter of the arrested couple called Li on Tuesday to plead for help. "But when I called officials, all of them said they knew nothing about the cases," Li said.



Activists denounce China for shutting AIDS school

16 Jul 2004 06:25:41 GMT
By Tan Ee Lyn

BANGKOK, July 16 (Reuters) - Rights groups denounced China on Friday for shutting down a school for children orphaned by AIDS and detaining four farmer activists with HIV.

The criticism came at the end of the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, where Chinese officials repeated pledges made in recent months by Beijing to give more treatment and care to those afflicted by the disease and their families.

"The irony is that while Chinese officials are hobnobbing with international activists and experts in Bangkok, their local activists are being harassed and imprisoned by the Chinese government," the AIDS Policy Project and Act Up Paris groups said.

They called for the four farmers to be released at once.

"International AIDS activists would like to be more positive about China's progress on AIDS in the past year. But it's impossible with Chinese activists facing arrest and jails," they said in a statement faxed to China's embassy in Bangkok.

Authorities in China's central province of Henan, where many farmers are dying of AIDS after selling their blood in the 1990s, shut the Orchid School in Shangqiu city last week, founder Li Dan said.

They sealed it after he told them he was going to Bangkok to join other activists in rallies and protests at the AIDS conference, Li said.

Angered by the children losing their school, four farmers tried to petition the authorities, but two were picked up by police at a Shangqiu hospital and the other two were detained when they tried to go to Beijing, Li said.

All four are HIV positive.

HAPPY FARMERS, SMILING CHILDREN

China says it has 840,000 HIV/AIDS cases, but experts say at least a million poor farmers were infected in Henan alone as a result of the botched blood-selling schemes.

After plasma was extracted from their blood, it was fed back into people from a general pool, unwittingly infecting them with the HIV virus.

Experts also say more than a million children in Henan could be suffering the effects of the tragedy, seeing their parents and other relatives die. Many of these children are also infected and dying. In badly-hit areas, entire families have been wiped out.

Earlier in the week, Vice Health Minister Wang Longde acknowledged the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in certain parts of China and certain pockets of the population, but promised the Bangkok AIDS conference that there would be more treatment and more care for victims and their families.

After his speech, his delegation showed a video of happy farmers and smiling chldren being given treatment, counselling and education.

But many activists say such help is far too slow and reaching too few victims. Many are suffering and dying without any access to antiretroviral drugs, which are expensive because supplies are controlled by foreign pharmaceutical giants.

More Chinese children are seeking treatment, but humanitarian groups cannot treat them with drugs made for youngsters because drug companies do not sell them in China.

Fear of stigmatization has also prevented many victims from getting tested and the United Nations says China's HIV/AIDS population could hit 10 million by 2010 if drastic measures are not taken.



      see also past AIDS grievances by China

 


Four Chinese AIDS activists jailed ; AIDS orphans harassed and supporters detained

July 16th, 2004


Bangkok - July 15, 2004

For immediate release

  from AIDS Policy Project and ACT UP/Paris

Activists at the Bangkok International AIDS Conference will present a petition to the Chinese government today demanding that officials respect the rights of people with AIDS and AIDS activists in that country. Ironically, four farmer-activists with HIV were actually detained by the police this week while the international AIDS conference was taking place. Two of the farmers, from Henan province, were picked up as they began a trip to Beijing to try to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao, who was rumored to be visiting a Beijing hospital. In addition, this week a school for AIDS orphans was forcibly closed by the local officials and two villagers who attempted to prevent the school closing were arrested. The government officials dragged some of the children into vehicles before relatives came to demand their release.

Other sections of the petition touch on the need for China to provide care and treatment for all people with AIDS regardless of the means of transmission of the virus, the role of government corruption in the deaths of people in Henan, the need for outside access to regions of the country hardest hit by AIDS. But the detention of the four activists has overshadowed other issues.

Says Stephen Leblanc, a member of the AIDS Policy Project, “The irony is that while hundreds of Chinese officials are hobnobbing with international activists and experts in Bangkok, their local activists are being harassed and imprisoned by the Chinese government. This is unacceptable. International AIDS activists would like to be more positive about China's progress on AIDS in the past year, but it’s impossible with Chinese activists facing arrest and jails.” The AIDS activists call for the immediate and unconditional of release of all four detainees and halt of the harassment of all people involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

AIDS activists in China, and even volunteers who try to help the country’s many AIDS orphans, are frequently harrassed, beaten, and intimidated by the authorities. As many as one million Chinese farmers became infected during illegal bloodselling schemes in the 1990s officials. These same officials covered up the epidemic for many years and now often harrass people with AIDS who seek treatment or redress of grievances.

Chinese, French, Italian, South African, American, Australian, Taiwanese, Greek, Canadian, British, New Zealander, and Hong Kong activists signed the petition, which expresses solidarity with the Chinese activists and demands access to science-based prevention, treatment and treatment education, and orphan care, among other issues. In addition to AIDS groups, several of the signers are eminent scholars of Chinese culture, such as Perry Link, who edited The Tienneman Papers.

Says Chloé Forette of Act Up-Paris, “The world is watching how the Central Government responds when Henan officials oppress people with AIDS. We see that they do nothing. Despite what they say, China seems to condone corruption and violence among local officials.”

Last year, the World Health Organization sent a delegation to Henan to investigate conditions. Shortly after the visit, press reports stated that local officials had sanitized the areas visited by W.H.O., forcibly evacuating people with AIDS and altering records. One woman who hid in order to try to speak to the W.H.O. delegation was severely beaten by local authorities.


A Petition to the Chinese Government:
11 Points On Stopping AIDS in China

July 2004, Bangkok, Thailand

We, the undersigned scientists, physicians, public health experts,
activists, scholars, and people with AIDS recognize the important steps
China has taken in the past year to confront its AIDS epidemic. We know that
the Central Government, including many members of the government delegation
in Bangkok today, are working hard to implement effective prevention and
treatment measures under challenging circumstances. We support these
efforts.

But they are only the first inroads in the fight against China’s growing
epidemic. In solidarity with people living with HIV/AIDS in China, we
respectfully request that you take the following actions:

1. Provide access to antiretroviral treatment, treatment education, and care
for all people living with HIV/AIDS in China and offer science-based
prevention education to all people at high risk of contracting HIV, whether
they are rural families, intravenous drug users, commercial sex workers,
ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, or others at risk. China must provide
prevention and treatment on a huge scale. People living with AIDS who signed
this petition remind us that treating only 50,000 people is not enough if
hundreds of thousands are left to die.

2. Ensure freedom of expression and freedom of association for AIDS
activists, as guaranteed in China’s Constitution and by international laws
that China has signed.

3. Compel local authorities to disclose the true extent of the AIDS epidemic
in their provinces and make this data available to the World Health
Organization.

4. Make all HIV testing voluntary and confidential. China must halt
involuntary testing of incarcerated people, including IV drug users and
commercial sex workers. Incarcerated individuals must be provided with legal
due process, as well as access to drug treatment and AIDS information and
treatment. Cease the detention of injection drug users and commercial sex
workers without trial, and eliminate the use of forced unpaid labor in
detention facilities.

5. Enforce laws that allow free education and care for orphans and children
of HIV-positive parents.

6. Local government corruption contributes to the deaths of thousands of
people with AIDS by siphoning life-saving resources. The Central Government
must stop local corruption to protect its residents who are affected by
AIDS.

7. The Chinese Central Government and all trade delegations must take the
strongest possible position with western governments and pharmaceutical
companies to ensure that high-quality AIDS medicines are widely available at
the lowest possible cost, regardless of source. Annual treatment costs for
the most effective combinations should be low enough to be accessible to all
people who need them.

8. Both the Central and local governments must open AIDS-affected regions of
the country to local and international NGOs, allowing them to conduct
research and provide care and other assistance in these areas. Chinese NGOs
with this access must include grassroots NGOs as well as organizations
sponsored by the government.

9. Require local courts to hear civil and criminal cases on HIV transmission
by government and private health facilities, and on discrimination against
people living with HIV/AIDS. End official interference in court decisions.

10. The Chinese and international media must be allowed to report on the
epidemic freely, without censorship or persecution of journalists. Activists
should not be pressured not to talk to the press.

11. AIDS conferences, panels, and decision-making bodies should include
participants from NGOs and groups of people with AIDS. When decisions are
made, the concerns of these groups ought to be given special weight, as they
are in many other countries.

Respectfully,

Marce Abare
Global Justice
Washington, DC, USA

ACT UP New York
New York, NY USA

ACT UP Paris
Paris, France

ACT UP Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA USA

AIDS Policy Project

Kim Cabbagestalk
People and Planet
London, UK

George M. Carter
Director
Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR)
Brooklyn, NY, USA

Alessandra Cerioli
Italian Legue for Fighting AIDS (LILA)
and Coordinator, Italian Community Advisory Board
Italy

Stuart F. Chen-Hayes, Ph.D., Lehman College/City University of New
York, Bronx, NY Coordinator, Counselor Education program &
Past-President, Counselors For Social Justice

China AIDS Solidarity Network
New York, NY USA

Karen Chung
New Zealand

Merrill Cole, Ph.D.
Louisville, KY, USA

Ana Teresa dos Santos Pereira
Coordinator of ESTIGMA
In Maceira-Liz, Leiria, PORTUGAL

Dr. Gene Copello
Executive Director, The AIDS Institute
Washington, DC USA

Julie Davids, Executive Director
Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)
New York, NY USA

Nikos Dedes, Chair
European Community Advisory Board, EU
Synthesis, Athens, Greece

Jose Demarco
ACTUP Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA USA

Anne Donnelly
Project Inform
San Francisco, CA, USA

Fong-Eu Lo
Mental Health Association
Taiwan

Bob Elliot
Global Justice
Washington, DC USA

Edward Friedman
Professor
University of Wisconsin Madison,
Political Science and East Asian Studies
Madison, WI USA

Professor Mobo C F Gao
Head of Chinese
University of Tasmania
Hobart, Tasmania
Australia

Richard Gallardo
Student
University of Texas at Arlington
Arlington, TX USA

Ann Gavaghan, MPH/MIA
Washington, DC, USA

Mauro Guarinieri
Chairperson
European AIDS Treatment Group
Brussels, Belgium

Karen Hilton
USA

Lital Hollander, MSc
Research Manager
ESMAN Medical Consulting Srl
Milan, Italy

Housing Works
New York, NY USA

Hu Jia
Beijing Loving Source Center for Education and Research
Beijing, China


Human Rights Watch
New York, NY USA

John S. James, editor and publisher
AIDS Treatment News
Philadelphia, PA, USA

Joshua Key
Student,
University of Texas at Arligton
Arlington, TX USA

Michael Kink, Esq.
Legislative Counsel
Housing Works, Inc.
New York, NY USA

Lai Kang-Yen
Administrator
Taiwan GLBT Association
Taipei, Taiwan

George Lee
Director
Positive Family Development
Taiwan

Sven Lee
Garden of Mercy
Taipei, Taiwan

Lin TeWei
Chargée de prévention
ARCAT
Paris France

Perry Link
Professor of Chinese
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ USA

Dr. Carole McGranahan
Department of Anthropology
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO USA

M. Mbuli
University of KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa

Srinivas Murthy
McGill International Health Initiative
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Andrew J. Nathan
Class of 1919 Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science
Columbia University
New York, NY USA

William Mejías Navarro
Grupo de Trabajo sobre
Tratamientos del VIH - gTt
Barcelona, Spain

Aryeh Neier, President
Open Society Institute
New York, USA

Ana Oliveira
Executive Director
Gay Men's Health Crisis
New York, NY USA

David M. Olson, M.D.
Medical Advisor, Medicins Sans Frontieres-USA
New York, NY USA

Chang Peing
Taipei STD Control Center 1
Taipei, Taiwan

Shin Ling Renn
Global Justice
Washington, DC

Frank Rodenbourg
Coordinator TRT-5
Paris, France

Jon Rose
AIDS Policy Project
Barrington, NJ USA

Shreyas Roy
McGill International Health Institute
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Mark Selden, Prof. of Sociology and History
Binghamton University
Binghamton NY USA

James D. Seymour, Ph.D.
Columbia University
New York NY USA

Shiu Cheng-Shi
Executive Secretary
Taiwan Sunflower Association of Holistic Care
Taiwan

Patricia Siplon
Professor of Political Science
Saint Michael's College
Colchester VT USA

Student Global AIDS Campaign USA
Washington, DC USA

Student Global AIDS Campaign of the University of Texas at Arlington
S.G.A.C. UTA, Arlington, TX USA

Student Global AIDS Campaign, Saint Michael's College Chapter
Colchester VT USA

Survive AIDS
San Francisco, CA
USA

TAG, Treatment Action Group
New York, NY USA

Adam Taylor
Global Justice
Washington, DC USA

Jacky Teng
Harmony Home Association
Taiwan

Gwynneth Wang
McGill International Health Initiative
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Jess Worth
People and Planet
London, UK

Kuo Wong
Yumenen Provincial Health Bureau
China

Wan Yanhai
Aizhi AIDS Institute
Beijing, China

Yu Jerming
Secretary General
Taiwan Sunflower Association of Holistic Care
Taiwan

Peter Wiessner
Munich, Germany

Sophy Shiahua Wong, MD
Affiliated with UCSF
Department of General Medicine
San Francisco, CA, USA

Peter Zarrow, Ph.D.
Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica
Taipei, Taiwan
  

    * * *



see also past AIDS grievances by China

 

see also:  CHINA HOTELS, SCHOOLS TURN AWAY AIDS ORPHANS   
Radio Free Asia

see :  CHINA AIDS ORPHANS  website  (in chinese)




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