Asianews.it: Human Rights Watch decries the serious deterioration in Hu's health, and is calling for his release. The activist was arrested in December for thought crimes. The organization says his wife, Zeng Jinan, under house arrest for months with her infant daughter, must also be set free.
Beijing (AsiaNews/HRW) -There has been serious deterioration in the health of Hu Jia, a human rights activist arrested in December of 2007, and sentenced last April to three years and six months in prison for criticizing the government. The NGO Human Rights Watch denounces that, in prison, Hu's life is in danger. The group is also calling for an end to the close surveillance of his wife, Zeng Jinan, under house arrest for months together with her infant daughter, Qianchi.
Hu, 34, is known in the country for his battles on behalf of people sick with AIDS. He has always fought for the democratic development of China, for absolute religious freedom, and for a review of the situation in Tibet, which "should be free to decide its future". Over time, he has also become a sort of point of reference for Chinese dissidents: he has gathered articles, prepared legal defenses, and presented to the international community the work of all of the opponents of the regime. He has worked with foreign media and embassies, providing material on the violation of human rights committed by the communist party. He is in prison for "instigating subversion against the state" because he criticized the government over the violations of human rights during preparations for the Olympics. He was sentenced at a trial in which even his contact with his lawyer was limited. His arrest took place in a genuine campaign against human rights defenders, prior to the Beijing Games.
Hu suffers from cirrhosis of the liver due to chronic hepatitis B. His wife Zeng has documented on her blog the worsening of his health in prison, but prison authorities have repeatedly denied him medical care at a specialized center. Most recently, on September 16, they replied to Zeng that her husband cannot receive permission for medical leave because "he is disobedient", he refuses to be "calm", and he violates prison rules. HRW Is calling for Hu's immediate release, or at least that he be taken where he can receive the necessary medical care.
In prison, his letters are also confiscated, and his wife and other relatives are forbidden to visit him, because - Zeng says - "he insists on giving advice about how to improve [life in] prison, and will not give up supporting human rights, which creates problems for the supervisors and personnel of the prison".
Zeng has been under house arrest since May 18, 2007, together with her 10-month-old daughter, subjected to tight police surveillance. HRW says that In China, house arrest is used outside of the law, and without sentencing. On August 7, 2008, one day before the opening of the Olympics, she was taken by force and without the chance to tell anyone to the coastal city of Dalian, where she remained until August 23, the day before the end of the Olympics. "For 16 days", she later wrote in her blog, "I was cut off from contact with the world. Only officials in police uniforms in the courtyard".
Sophie Richardson, head of Human Rights Watch for Asia, explains that "the authorities' relentless harassment of Zeng Jinyan and her young daughter not only violates their basic rights, but is essentially collective punishment for Hu Jia's activities".