HONG KONG--Chinese well-wishers and bloggers were detained and questioned by police standing guard outside the home of detained AIDS activist Hu Jia, reporting their experience later online.
Dozens of petitioners went to Hu Jia’s home in an eastern suburb of Beijing on Sunday, in a bid to bring baby formula to Hu's wife Zeng Jinyan. Zeng has been held with her baby daughter under house arrest since Hu's arrest Dec. 27 for "subverting state power." Their internet and phone connections have been cut off.
Some of the well-wishers were taken to the Dispersion Center for petitioners from out of town, suggesting they travelled from elsewhere in China to help Zeng.
One netizen, identified online as "Little Hammer," said he had tried to deliver baby formula to Zeng but police blocked his way, questioning him for several hours.
"How precious freedom is! But Hu Jia sacrificed his own freedom for all of us," "Little Hammer" wrote.
Several other people reported in blog posts and forum messages that they also tried to visit Zeng, or bring milk powder to her, but apparently none succeeded.
Instead, Zeng barred police from entering her apartment Sunday, saying it was illegal to hold her and her baby under house arrest.
According to Hu's friend, legal scholar Teng Biao, the police replied: "You are not innocent. You were involved in many of the things that Hu Jia did."
Teng said the police appeared to be threatening Zeng also with detention, talking within earshot about allowing her home from detention to feed her baby.
Zeng Jinyan, herself an AIDS activist who won an award from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders alongside Hu Jia last year, was also shown a photocopy of a note written to her from Hu.
She was not allowed to keep the note, which expressed concern about his wife and daughter. But she was told Hu was being taken care of in prison, with his own bathroom and special vegetarian meals.
Teng called on the authorities to allow a lawyer to visit Hu, who suffers from cirrhosis of the liver, as soon as possible, as police were refusing to take prescription drugs sent to Hu by his family.
Hu’s lawyer submitted an application for parole last week but has not yet received any response from the authorities, Teng added.
"The outside world is greatly concerned about his health, and so the police tell us his condition is normal. But the most important thing is for a lawyer to be allowed in to visit him, so we can know the real situation," he told RFA's Mandarin service.
Meanwhile, the wives of two other imprisoned dissidents expressed their support for Zeng.
The authorities should release all jailed dissidents before the Olympics, but instead they are detaining more. This is completely against the Olympic spirit.
Yuan Weijing, wife of the blind Shandong activist Chen Guangcheng, herself currently under house arrest, published an open letter to the Chinese leadership Monday calling for the immediate release of Hu Jia.
"I worry about Hu Jia’s health as well as his wife’s situation," she wrote. "What Hu Jia did was just telling the world what is happening in China, such as the story of lawyer Gao Zhisheng, Chen Guangcheng, Guo Feixiong, and those people."
"The Chinese media cannot report these stories in a timely manner. I really cannot understand why Hu Jia was charged with ‘inciting subversion by just doing what Chinese media couldn’t do,’” Yuan Weijing told RFA's Mandarin service.
Jia Jianying, wife of jailed dissident He Depu, called on Chinese leaders to release political prisoners ahead of this year's Summer Olympics in Beijing.
"The authorities should release all jailed dissidents before the Olympics, but instead they are detaining more. This is completely against the Olympic spirit," Jia said.
Video taken by the couple in recent months shows a team of national security police camped outside the couple’s apartment round the clock. Police are turning away any journalists who try to visit Zeng, but she was briefly captured by a UK television crew peering from the window, her baby in her arms.
Teng said the charges of incitement to overthrow state power against Hu were unfounded. He said Hu Jia wasn’t against the Olympics, but rather that he had called publicly for an improvement to Chinese society as a result of the Olympics.
Prominent AIDS activist Wan Yanhai was also taken in by police for questioning on the day of Hu’s arrest, Dec. 27. And Gao Yaojie, a well-known AIDS doctor, says that the day Hu Jia was detained she received a “mysterious phone call” from a stranger inviting her to attend an AIDS seminar. Upon verification she learned that there was no such seminar.
The 80-year-old doctor says she believes that it was a trick to lure her out of her house. She says her phone line is being tapped, her e-mail has been blocked, and her family has been harassed and even threatened.
Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie and Chen Ping. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.