World Journal, September 20, 2002

English translation below

_English Translation

World Journal, September 20, 2002

AIDS Group Pickets Chinese Consulate in New York

ACT UP Calls On Beijing to Release Wan Yanhai

ACT UP, the leader in global AIDS activism in the 1980's, staged an unprecedented protest in front of the Chinese Consulate in New York yesterday, calling on Beijing to release 38-year-old Wan Yanhai.

Dr. Wan Yanhai, a researcher in public health, is a pioneer in gay studies and AIDS prevention in mainland China. He was accused of "leaking state secrets" for releasing a document heading for Beijing from Henan's Department of Health, and has been missing since August 24th. Henan Province has the worst AIDS crisis in mainland China, and it is widely believed that the official statistics revealed in this "secret" are gross underestimates.

Besides the enthusiastic members of ACT UP, members of Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) also came in support of yesterday's noon protest. Wang Dan, the pro-democracy leader who could not be present in New York, released a simple statement.

Wang Dan pointed out, "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, a tireless grassroots activist working for AIDS prevention."

Wang Dan said, "We call 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."

The protesters also pledged to start a global letter campaign. They showed a version of an open letter demanding that the head of Beijing's Ministry of State Security "immediately inform Wan Yanhai's family of his condition and safety, and insure that Wan Yanhai receives full access to his family, lawyers, and medical treatment."

ACT UP, who organized the protest against Wan Yanhai's arrest, was responsible for several earth-shattering actions during the early years of the AIDS crisis in the U.S. They successfully surrounded Wall Street, paralyzing the stock exchange; they have also thrown ashes of AIDS victims onto the White House lawn during Reagan's administration. In comparison, yesterday's protest was much milder. Of ACT UP's current active members, only Laurie Wen is from Hong Kong. She was one of the main organizers of yesterday's action.



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