Police Detain Jilin AIDS Activist for Criminal Investigation, Harassing Others

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People’s Congress in Fear of the People:
Police Detain Jilin AIDS Activist for Criminal Investigation, Harassing Others

At a time when national affairs are under the spotlight with the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), CRD deplores the harassment and detention of activists involved in seeking redress for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA), most of whom were infected as a result of official malfeasance. The right to complain against state organs and functionaries is a constitutionally-protected right (Art. 41, PRC Constitution), which the NPC, as the highest organ of state power in China, should uphold.

In the two weeks of the sessions of the NPC, which concludes today, Beijing has been under extreme security measures equivalent to the imposition of martial law, with anyone suspected of wanting to petition the deputies facing expulsion, interception, or arrest. Many activists in the capital have been put under house arrest, while the police harassment of people living with HIV/AIDS in Henan and the criminal detention of an HIV/AIDS activist in Jilin highlight the government’s fear about any public expression of grievances and criticisms particularly during this period.

As CRD reports in China Human Rights Briefing (March 6-13), Zhu Bingjin (朱炳金), male, 58, a HIV/AIDS activist in rural Jilin Province, was put under criminal detention on March 10 by the PSB branch of Chuanying District, Jilin City, which issued a criminal detention order. He is being detained for investigation of suspected crimes in the category of “gathering crowds to disturb social order” (聚众扰乱社会秩序). He is being held at the Jilin City Detention Center (吉林市看守所). (More information about this case: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=524, Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=519)

In Henan Province, several PLWHA and AIDS activists were put under house arrest or intense surveillance for more than 10 days, including several women who were infected with HIV due to transfusions of infected blood in Ningling County. Another AIDS activist and his wife, both living with HIV as well as being activists, have been under surveillance since March 1 in Tuocheng County, Henan Province. Surveillance orders were lifted on all but one of the women on the 14th or the 15th while the NPC closes its session. One of them tried to petition Ningling County People’s Congress today. But police showed up around 10 am, standing guard in front of her house. (More information on the Ningling women: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=524)

By the end of today, March 15, Beijing time, there is still no sight of the AIDS activist Hu Jia, who has gone missing for the 27th days, since he disappeared under close police watch on Feb. 16. Family and colleagues’ had hoped for his return when the NPC sessions end. (More information on Hu Jia’s disappearance: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=331)

We urge Beijing law enforcement authorities investigate any criminal activities surrounding Hu Jia’s disappearance, or inform the family of his whereabouts, as the family has repeatedly requested. This is the least Beijing PSB must do. It is their obligation to protect the safety and freedom of Beijing residents.

We urge Hunan authorities stop harassment of AIDS activists through intrusive surveillance again, lifting any remaining surveillance. It is unconstitutional and illegal to harass them merely for exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression. As we note above, the right to complain against official malfeasance is a constitutional right, which unfortunately is commonly ignored by governments at all levels. Rising social discontent, including those of PLWHA, can only be addressed if channels for the expression and communication of grievances are available and people affected by official negligence and malfeasance are able to participate in the searching for fair solutions to their problems.

Accordingly, CRD demands that the Chuanying District PSB immediately release Zhu Bingjin and drop any investigation of his activities. Whether he travelled to Beijing as a tourist or to petition the NPC, his activities do not appear to have violated any Chinese law. Based on humanitarian considerations related to Zhu’s health and medication needs, the local PSB should at the very least let Mr. Zhu return home during investigation of accusations against him.

CRD

March 15, 2005

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