More AIDS activists arrested in China

With more and more positive news on how China is finally facing up to its AIDS cris, I was hoping we weren’t going to see more stories like this. Apparently that was a pipe dream.

At least six Aids sufferers and others living in a village in central China devastated by the disease have been arrested for seeking government help, their families and police said on Friday.

The six were detained on Tuesday and are being held in a jail in Shangcai county, Henan province, where many farmers contracted HIV/Aids from selling blood in unsanitary government-approved schemes beginning in the mid-1980s.

Five of them, from Wenlou village, had travelled to the provincial capital Zhengzhou to ask the government to carry out its promise of repairing Aids patients’ dilapidated homes, said Zhang Qiao, the wife of Cheng Fudong, one of the people arrested.

“Our home is broken down. Rain pours down from the roof. The government had repaired some of the homes in the village, but neglected the others,” said Zhang, who has Aids, along with her husband.

Another villager, Kong Wanli, was detained because he was among the most outspoken farmers in the village and had previously demanded government help,” his wife Wei Hong told reporters.

She said her husband was held because Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was planning to visit the village on Saturday.

Arrested for seeking government help, or to keep them away from Wen Jiabo — however you look at it, it’s revolting. Too bad this sort of thing is so commonplace it doesn’t lift an eyebrow.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

I really want to know at what level of government the commands come to sweep up petitioners and keep them out of public sight. They did the same thing on a massive scale just before the NPC meetings. And it’s obviously a regular thing for those petitioning in Beijing about land abuses in the provinces (like Shanghai and near the Three Gorges Dam).

May 2, 2004 @ 4:04 am | Comment

Relax, Tom — they’re reforming.

May 3, 2004 @ 10:04 am | Comment

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