Jailed Dissident in Hospital

The health of Chinese activist Hu Jia is said to deteriorate.
2010-04-09
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Hu Jia, photographed in 2007 while under house arrest in Beijing.
Hu Jia, photographed in 2007 while under house arrest in Beijing.
AFP

HONG KONG—Jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia has been hospitalized for almost two weeks awaiting the results of cancer testing, as his family called on the government to release the AIDS and civil rights activist on medical parole.

Hu, 37, suffers from hepatitis B, and was admitted to the Beijing municipal prison hospital for a CT scan on March 30, his wife Zeng Jinyan said.

“They still haven’t come back to me on the test results after all this time,” Zeng said.

“I think that could mean two things. One is that they are in great difficulty making a medical assessment, and the other is that the prognosis is very bad indeed, and they don’t know how to communicate this.”

Hospital authorities have refused to allow visits from Hu’s wife or other relatives, she added.

Parole request

“Part of me wants them to tell me the results as soon as possible, but part of me has other thoughts about them. I am worried. I haven’t seen the results, and I haven’t seen the patient.”

Hu’s family have applied to the authorities for leave for Hu to go overseas and seek medical treatment, but have received no definite answer, she said.

“I brought up the application with them, but it isn’t happening yet,” Zeng said.

“They said they were waiting for the results to come back to be sure that it was actually cancer, and that even if it was, they wouldn’t necessarily grant medical parole.”

Medical parole has been granted in the past to top Chinese dissidents, including 1979 Democracy Wall activist Wei Jingsheng and opposition China Democracy Party founder Wang Youcai, who left China for exile in the United States.

Zeng blamed Hu’s diet and labor requirements in jail for the worsening of his medical condition.

“For a start, we hope he hasn’t got liver cancer. But if he has to stay in prison, then I will be very worried about [his health]. Whatever the problem is, it’s clear that there has been a grave deterioration ....”

“We are looking for a way to get him home as soon as possible, so he can get better medical attention in a better environment. If that doesn’t happen, I will be very worried about the outcome.”

Zeng said she has experiencied severe sleep loss since Hu’s admission to hospital.

No comment

“I want to take good care of my child, but sometimes I get into a very distracted state of mind. The other day I cut my finger while I was chopping vegetables, and I had a small accident in the car as well.”

An employee who answered the phone at the Beijing municipal prison authority hospital declined to comment on Hu’s condition.

“We are not allowed to answer questions from the media at this hospital,” the employee said.

“We are just here to run a hospital. We have nothing to do with the affairs of the prisoners themselves.”

And a Beijing prison authority official said they were unfamiliar with Hu’s case, and declined to comment.

Authorities in Beijing sentenced Hu Jia to 3-1/2 years in jail for “incitement to subversion” after he wrote articles online critical of China’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics.

Hu, a well-known AIDS activist, was detained in December 2007 after spending months under virtual house arrest because of his civil rights lobbying on behalf of disenfranchised people affected by the Olympics.

He was jailed in April 2008.

A campaigner for human rights and AIDS victims in China, Hu was awarded the Sakharov Prize, a major human rights award, by the European Union six months later.

He had acted as a key source of information for foreign media on human rights and environmental violations, government abuses, judicial injustices, and mistreatment of dissidents.

Zeng, herself an AIDS activist and blogger who won an award from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders alongside Hu Jia last year, has updated her blog sporadically from house arrest, despite a clampdown by national security police on her telephone and Internet access.

Zeng and daughter Hu Qianci were the focus of a goodwill campaign by other Chinese bloggers and netizens during a long period of house arrest after the baby was born.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao and in Cantonese by Grace Kei Lai-see. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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