Beijing-based Activist Hu Jia Beaten by Police on the 179th Day of Residential Surveillance

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Beijing-based Activist Hu Jia Beaten by Police on the 179th Day of Residential Surveillance

(Chinese Human Rights Defender, 10 November 2007)—Hu Jia, a Beijing-based human rights defender, was beaten by officers from the National Security Unit (Guo Bao) of the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) yesterday, after 179 consecutive days of residential surveillance by the PSB without legal authorization.

At 9pm on November 9, Hu set off to visit his pregnant wife at Zhaoyang Hospital, where she is staying in preparation for child birth. He brought with him her favorite food. At the stairway of his building, he was stopped by plainclothes officers from the National Security Unit of the Beijing PSB, who have been assigned to watch him. Hu tried to ignore them and kept walking. One officer grabbed the collar of Hu’s shirt and hit him on the mouth. Hu’s lips cracked and his gums bled. For two minutes, Hu tried defending himself, but he was no match with the well-trained police officer. The officer tried twisting Hu’s arms behind Hu’s back to keep him under control. At the end of the two minutes, the officer left to make a phone call while the other two officers (who did not participate in the fighting) barred Hu from leaving. The officers did not tell Hu their names nor show any identification documents, but Hu recognized them because they have been monitoring his residence.

Hu was apparently let go after the police made the phone call. He arrived at the hospital at around 10pm. Hu said police from the National Security Unit continued to follow him while he drove to the hospital. They also kept a close watch on the couple by staying outside their room at the hospital.

Hu sustained injury to his right arm and elbow and to the middle finger on his right hand. He said he could hardly drive his car.

Hu, 31, started his activism as an AIDS activist in 2001. He is co-founder of the Beijing Aizhixing Institute of Health Education and Loving Source, a grassroots organization dedicated to help children from AIDS families. Due to his criticisms of the government’s failures in AIDS prevention and care, he has been repeatedly harassed and beaten by police. Hu’s activism extends beyond AIDS. He has insisted on reporting human rights violations, giving interviews to overseas press and writing about other activists’ plight. Hu Jia and his wife Zeng Jinyan have been put under “residential surveillance” (Jianshi Juzhu) without any legal authorization since May 18 this year. During sensitive times, such as the 17th Party Congress in mid-October, they are prohibited from leaving their residence. When they are allowed to go out, they are either followed closely by the police or they have to travel in police officer’s car.

The current residential surveillance started after the couple returned from a visit to Hong Kong and were about to set off for a tour to Europe to promote their documentary film “Prisoners of Freedom City.” Previously, from March 28, 2006 to Feb 26, 2007, the couple was put under a long period of residential surveillance without legal authorization. Before then, Hu Jia was “disappeared” for 41 days and was later confirmed detained in a basement by the Beijing police.

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