House Arrest Activist Offline

A Chinese AIDS activist says he is being held at home by authorities despite completing his prison sentence.
2012-09-21
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Hu Jia displays what he says is bruising he received from a beating by authorities, Sept. 6, 2012.
Photo courtesy of Canyu.org

Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia was incommunicado on Friday after a 34-hour hunger strike in protest at his continuing house arrest and beatings by police, following threats from authorities regarding online posts in recent days.

"I have now been on hunger strike for 24 hours," Hu wrote via his Twitter account on Thursday, although later posts suggested he resumed his food intake. "My mother was worried about me ... and told me to go and eat at my parents' home, but at 12:00 p.m. I was detained when I tried to go outside."

Hu's Twitter-based friends said the activist's Internet access had been cut off, but that he appeared to be eating again following a 1 1/2 day hunger strike in protest at his treatment by state security police. The latest period of house arrest may have been sparked by a recent visit to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"A state security policeman called Su Lijun yelled at me and insulted me and pushed me to the floor for about 40 minutes," Hu wrote. "He kept shouting that I was a traitor who had betrayed my country, and that I was the running dog of the Japanese."

Hu said the police had threatened him, saying he should erase his recent online posts by the end of the day "or take responsibility for the consequences."

He said repeated attempts to call the regular police following the attack had yielded no response, and that he feared the authorities would break into his apartment and take his computer away.

There have been no posts to his Twitter account since.

Freedom curtailed

However, he told RFA in an interview on Tuesday that his freedom was being severely curtailed, in spite of having completed his sentence.

"I went downstairs ... and there were seven or eight people around the front door," he said. "About three of them were from the state security police, and they were very fierce towards me."

"I thought I was a free citizen, and that I was free to come and go as I pleased ... Those are my rights."

But the police said they were "acting on orders," Hu added. "I am going to go on hunger strike in protest at them."

Hu's wife, fellow activist Zeng Jinyan, recently relocated to Hong Kong with the couple's young daughter, Hu tweeted before his Twitter account stopped showing fresh updates on Thursday.

"My main happiness every day lies in knowing that my baby is in a safe and secure place," wrote Hu, who has been under close surveillance at his Beijing home since his release from a three-year jail term for subversion.

"After 34 hours of hunger strike, I am making some congee," he wrote in his last Twitter post. "In this tiny home, I will try to make life seem a bit more like life. But the days are still so long."

Zeng replied to his posts on Thursday: "Just seen the news. Take care of yourself."

Hu is a close friend and vocal supporter of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, whose dramatic escape from house arrest and flight to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing sparked a diplomatic crisis in May.

He was jailed on subversion charges in April 2008 just ahead of the Beijing Olympics after campaigning on issues such as civil rights, the environment, and AIDS.

Reported by He Ping for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.