Chinese AIDS activist Dr. Dr. Gao Yaojie was among seven winners of the 2003 Ramon Magsaysay Award--Asia's version of the Nobel Prize. But Gao told Radio Free Asia (RFA) she fears trouble from the authorities if she asks for permission to accept the award in person in August.
"I am not going to apply [for permission to go]... and accept the award," Gao told RFA's Mandarin service. "It would be like asking for trouble. My phone is still bugged."
Gao, a retired gynecologist, received the public service award "for her fervent personal crusade to confront the AIDS crisis in China and to address it humanely," the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation www.rmaf.org.ph said in a statement.
She complained Wednesday about continuing ignorance and inaction in China regarding AIDS.
"Just look around. How many Chinese newspapers are carrying stories about AIDS? In reality, AIDS is much worse than SARS," she said. "It's not just in Henan. I have received many letters from people who tell me that AIDS is also very serious in other places. But nobody is talking about it, so people think AIDS doesn't exist in other places."
The annual awards, named after the late Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay, will be presented Aug. 31, organizers said. The awards were established by the trustees of the New York-based Rockefeller Brothers' Fund to perpetuate Magsaysay's example of government integrity and pragmatic idealism in a democratic society.
Magsaysay, a World War II guerrilla fighter against Japanese occupation, became popular for quelling the communist rebellion in the 1950s as Philippine defense secretary and was elected president in 1953.
Each winner will receive a certificate, a medallion with Magsaysay's image, and a cash prize. ###