Chinese AIDS Activist Defies Police (2007.04.05 )

HONG KONG—In a single year, Chinese AIDS activist Hu Jia was abducted by Chinese security police, survived a 30-day hunger strike, and spent more than 200 days under house arrest.

Hu, 34, also suffers from hepatitis-related ailments.

It would be hard to say that he’s having fun. But Hu has a wry sense of humor uncommon among dissidents. His eyes twinkle.

“Having so many policemen follow me around makes me feel really important,” Hu says with a smile.

His activism on AIDS issues may be only one reason for the police surveillance. He’s also been strongly supporting other dissidents, acting as an intermediary between them and the media.

When the police jail dissidents, he visits their relatives to show his support. Hu is close to human rights lawyers who use China’s own laws to challenge local officials and the police.

“We must use the law as a weapon,” he says.

We must use the law as a weapon.

Hu Jia

Support for blind activist

Hu’s house arrest appears to be linked to his support for a well-known blind activist and self-made lawyer, Chen Guangcheng.

Chen was given a jail sentence of four years and three months in August, 2006. The sentence was upheld in January 2007.

Several police officers were stationed at all times outside Hu Jia’s apartment on the outskirts of Beijing. They worked in shifts, 24 hours a day.

What seemed to bother Hu most about the surveillance was that the police followed his wife, Zeng Jinyan, wherever she went.

When she went to work, or even on a shopping trip, police officers walked behind her, sometimes blocking her way. When she drove off in her car, one or two police cars trailed her.

At one point, Zeng Jinyan held up a sign in front of one of the police cars. It said, “Shame on you for bullying a woman!”

She also sometimes wore a T-shirt with similar words on the back of the shirt.

But without explanation, the government lifted police surveillance in February and allowed Hu to make a trip to Hong Kong. The police watch had lasted 214 days.

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