Ill Activist Denied Parole

Authorities refuse medical parole for a jailed Chinese activist.

Hu Jia - 305 Hu Jia, photographed in 2007 while under house arrest in Beijing.

HONG KONG—Chinese authorities have denied jailed AIDS and civil rights activist Hu Jia’s request for medical parole, his wife said Monday.

Zeng Jinyan said that she appealed for Hu’s medical parole last Thursday to authorities at the Beijing Municipal Prison after her husband suffered deteriorating health over the course of several months. An initial application for medical parole in May 2009 was also rejected.

“The prison called Hu Jia’s mother on Monday morning, informing her that Hu’s application for medical parole was rejected. The reason was that the current condition of his cirrhosis doesn’t meet the requirement for parole,” Zeng said.

Hu, 37, suffers from Hepatitis B and liver disease, according to Zeng.

He has been treated for fever and diarrhea since March in a hospital managed by the Beijing Prison Administration Bureau.

Hu had also complained of frequent stomach cramps and pains, a lack of appetite, and weight loss.

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

Doctors discovered a growth on Hu's liver, which Zeng fears may lead to liver cancer.

“They already returned him to prison from the hospital last Friday, saying he doesn’t have cancer. However, their explanations are doubtful and they haven’t provided any written diagnosis either,” she added.

No access to documents

The hospital director said the growth on Hu’s liver is a “hemangioma” and his fever and diarrhea were diagnosed as “subclinical hyperthyroidism,” Zeng said, but when she called the Beijing Municipal Prison on Monday to request a written document, she was refused.

“As far as I know, a hemangioma comes at birth and cannot grow that fast. This doesn’t fit Hu Jia’s case. The prison also refused to provide medical data on his current liver problems. They have just refused my request without giving any reasons.”

An employee at the Beijing Municipal Prison said by phone Monday that decisions for parole are based on, but not limited to, an inmate’s medical condition.

“Parole is mainly decided according to the inmate’s health. We have a committee which reviews applications based on a set of regulations,” he said.

When asked why Hu Jia would not be granted medical parole despite his cirrhosis of the liver, the man said: “Him? Medical parole is also determined according to other inmate conditions, such as his conviction and serving time.”

He went on to say that prison management should be contacted for an explanation of relevant regulations

When asked if it is unlikely for political prisoners to receive parole, the man answered that the prison didn't currently house any political prisoners, only “common criminals.”

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.

Prominent activist

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 2008 Olympics.

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

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.

Hu was also nominated twice as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Zeng Jinyan, 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.

She was also listed by the American magazine Time as one of the world’s 100 most influential figures in 2007.

Original reporting by Ding Xiao for RFA’s Mandarin service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated by Ping Chen. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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