Leading human rights activist Hu Jia today spent his 35th birthday alone in his cell in Hubai prison in Tianjin (200 km southeast of Beijing). His wife, Zeng Jinyan, his mother and his sister were not allowed to see him. The police told them they were “too busy to make the necessary arrangements.” The last time his mother and sister were allowed to see him was on 4 May.
“The police have behaved disgracefully,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is unacceptable that Hu Jia’s family has not been allowed to visit him on his birthday. We are worried about his health which is worsening steadily. He suffers from cirrhosis, as a result of an attack of hepatitis, but he has not had a single medical examination since his arrest. It is appalling that, just a few days before the start of the Olympic Games, a prisoner of conscience is not even being allowed to see his wife on his birthday.”
Two Agence France Presse journalists were invited by Zeng to come to her Beijing apartment today, but the police prevented them from going in although they were carrying documents saying they have the right to interview Chinese citizens during the Olympic Games period.
Arrested in Beijing on 27 December, Hu was sentenced on 3 April to three and a half years in prison on a charge of “inciting subversion of state authority” for posting articles about government issues on websites based abroad. He was transferred to Hubai prison on 8 May. His wife and baby are meanwhile effectively under house arrest in Beijing.
Zeng Jinyan (AFP)
Hu and Zeng were awarded the Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France special “China” prize at the start of December. Time magazine named Zeng as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2006.
Addressing the European Parliament by webcam on 26 November, Hu said: “It is ironic that one of the people in charge of organising the Olympic Games is the head of the Bureau of Public Security, which is responsible for so many human rights violations. It is very serious that the official promises are not being kept before the games.”
China is the world’s biggest prison for cyber-dissidents, with 50 currently detained.
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Three-and-a-half-year jail term for Hu Jia called “provocation” just four months before Olympics