Sing Tao Daily . September 20, 2002

English translation below


English Translation
Photo Caption: .Members from various organizations picketing outside New York's Chinese Consulate, holding up portraits of Wan Yanhai and calling on Beijing to release him.

Sing Tao Daily, September 20, 2002

Human Rights, Gay Groups Picket Chinese Consulate in New York
Calling On Beijing to Release AIDS Expert Wan Yanhai

by Jacky Wong

Yesterday several international organizations, together with New York gay and AIDS groups, picketed the Chinese Consulate in New York, demanding that the Chinese government immediately release Dr. Wan Yanhai, the AIDS expert who had been detained since the 24th.

Yesterday's action was led by the AIDS group ACT UP New York (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and Human Rights in China. Groups that lent their support included Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY). Approximately 60 people participated, chanting and holding up signs with slogans such as "Free Wan Yanhai" and "Knowledge =Life," calling on the Chinese government to release Wan Yanhai.

An organizer from ACT UP, Laurie Wen, said yesterday that China had only started to acknowledge its AIDS crisis in recent years. Yet now, just as China hopes to receive foreign assistance, it has jailed AIDS expert Wan Yanhai. Moreover, according to Wan's wife, Su Zhaosheng, Wan was arrested for exposing the conditions of Henan's AIDS villages to the foreign media. Yet these conditions were already widely known, making China's action all the more baffling. Wen also pointed out that according to UN estimates, if infections continue at the current rate, the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in China will reach 10 million in 2010. Since the Chinese government is currently applying for a $90 million grant from the Global AIDS Fund, if Beijing hopes to receive this grant to fight the AIDS epidemic, then it must prove to the international community its determination to fight AIDS by releasing Wan Yanhai.

Meanwhile, Wang Dan, the pro-democracy leader currently studying at Harvard University, could not be present at the rally but had an open letter read by a spokesperson. Wang Dan pointed out that China's AIDS epidemic has already exceeded our worst fears. The disaster that it will bring to China has not yet shown its full force; the looming explosion will cause the deaths of a million, even ten million, people. In order to prevent this human tragedy from happening, the most basic step is to reveal the truth and to let the Chinese people know of this danger. This is exactly the mission of Wan Yanhai. However, not only does the Chinese government conceal the truth, but it also arrests Wan Yanhai. This strategy is like adding fuel to the fire; it will make China's AIDS epidemic the new challenge for the global community. Wang Dan called upon the whole world to be concerned with the fate of Wan Yanhai. To be concerned with him is to be concerned with the future of China, and to be concerned with the prosperity of the world.

According to sources, Wan Yanhai was taken away at 2pm on the 24th, after attending a screening of the Tokyo Gay and Lesbian Film Festival at a bar in Beijing. Since then, Wan's wife, who lives in Los Angeles, has not received any of his daily phone calls, nor has she received any official or unofficial news from the government. Wan Yanhai graduated from Shanghai Medical University, started education and research on gay issues and AIDS in 1991, and founded the AIDS Hotline in 1992. But in 1993, he was criticized by the Chinese Ministry of Health for "advocating human rights, homosexuality, and sympathizing with prostitutes," and was forced to leave a year later. At the end of 1994, Wan Yanhai established AIZHI (AIDS) Action Project, later discovering AIDS villages in Henan where farmers were collectively infected with AIDS from blood-selling. He subsequently conducted extensive research and drew public attention to this issue. On July 1st of this year, the Chinese government banned AIZHI Action Project, but a lot of the group's information continued to circulate on the internet.



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