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HRIC Condemns Growing Harassment against HIV/AIDS Petitioners

April 21, 2008

Human Rights in China denounces a wave of police attacks and harassment targeting people living with HIV/AIDS in China. In response to the detention on April 5 in Hebei of eleven individuals who petitioned the government for relief after contracting the HIV virus through blood transfusions, two other HIV/AIDS petitioners have appealed to the local Public Security Bureau to release the detained petitioners and investigate their unlawful detention. Their appeal is appended to this statement.

This kind of harassment greatly damages the 'harmonious' society that China wants to construct, and runs counter to the civilized and open image that China wants presents to the outside world.
— Sharon Hom,
executive director of Human Rights in China

The detention of these eleven petitioners is the latest in a series of incidents that have targeted HIV/AIDS patients and petitioners since the beginning of 2008, including detentions, harassment, and physical attacks. The Beijing-based Aizhixing Institute, a service organization that fights discrimination and seeks to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in China, has issued a notice stating that it will scale back services before the Olympic Games due to the increased harassment of its clients.

"The targeting of HIV/AIDS patients and petitioners is another example of the hard line taken by Chinese authorities since the beginning of this Olympic year against rights activists," said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. "This kind of harassment greatly damages the 'harmonious' society that China wants to construct, and runs counter to the civilized and open image that China wants presents to the outside world."

Aizhixing, in announcing the cut in services, detailed at least ten incidents of harassment of clients in recent weeks and said it will suspend many activities and stop providing some services in order to protect its staff and clients. One of the incidents cited in Aizhixing’s notice was the beating and detention by police of the eleven Hebei petitioners on April 5, 2008, who were appealing to Premier Wen Jiabao after they contracted the virus through transfusions at a local hospital. On April 14, Shahe municipal state security officials refused to reveal why the petitioners were being held and refused to let lawyers Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), Li Chunfu (李春富), Liu Wei (刘巍), and Chen Mo (陈默) speak to them on the grounds of "state secrets."

During this crucial period before the Games begin on August 8, Human Rights in China calls on the Chinese government:

  • to take immediate steps to ensure that civil society groups addressing pressing social needs, like Aizhixing, can continue to do their important work, free from harassment; and

  • to ensure that the rights of the petitioners detained on April 5 are fully respected and that they have full access to legal counsel.
  • HRIC also urges the international community:

    • to closely monitor these developments; and
    • to encourage Chinese authorities to support civil society organizations and stop intimidating petitioners and lawyers.

    For more information on Beijing Aizhixing Institute, see:


    HIV Positive Persons in Shahe, Hebei Province
    A Letter of Complaint to the Ministry of Public Security

    To the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China and the Minister of Public Security, Mr. Meng Jianzhu:


    We are HIV-positive persons from Shahe City in Hebei Province. At the end of last century, we were infected with HIV through blood transfusions at Shahe Kangtai Hospital. Since this happened we have repeatedly gone to the hospital to demand conpensation, but it has refused. The Shahe Municipal government has said that it will help us resolve the problem and set up a group to receive our requests. However, over ten years have passed since then, and the issue of compensation has not been resolved. As a result, our families have all been experiencing great difficulty.

    On April 5, 2008, our Premier, Wen Jiabao, came to Shahe to conduct an inspection; we knew of his visit in advance. We know that Mr. Wen has always paid special attention to the people's suffering. So that morning our group, HIV victims and family members, went to Shahe Guesthouse to visit Mr. Wen and tell him about the problems we've been facing. Mr. Wen would certainly be able to come up with a way to help us resolve this problem.

    We didn't expect 50–60 plainclothes personnel from the Shahe Public Security Bureau to arrest our small group and take us to a detention center. When they arrested us, they sprayed us with an unknown substance which immediately made us unable to breathe or open our eyes. We lost consciousness. There are still many people being held at the detention center today. We have not yet been able to undergo the necessary procedures, nor have we received any legal documents. On the morning of April 14, 2008, our lawyer went to the Shahe Municipal Public Security Bureau to gain an understanding of the situation.

    However the receptionist at the Public Security Bureau not only did not inform him of the reasons for the arrests, but also did not tell him whether they were just under detention, or if they were being criminally detained. She also refused his request for a meeting.

    For these reasons, we are writing to the Ministry of Public Security and to the Minister of Public Security, Mr. Meng Jianzhu, to report this illegal action undertaken by the Shahe Municipal Public Security Bureau. We request that the Ministry of Public Security investigate this illegal action in accordance with the law, and release the HIV positive persons and family members who are being detained as soon as possible.


    Shahe HIV Victim and Family Member: Wang Rui Su and Zhang Lian Zhen