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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

 


 

Human Rights Watch

hrw-news@topica.email-publisher.com

China: Police Violence Against HIV-Positive Protestors Escalates
Henan Authorities Deepen AIDS Cover-up

(New York, July 9, 2003) - Police in Henan province are increasingly
using arbitrary arrests and violence against HIV-positive protestors
seeking access to treatment, Human Rights Watch said today.

 "Persecuting HIV-positive protestors is doubly outrageous given that
the state was complicit in their infection in the first place," said
Joanne Csete, director of the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program at
Human Rights Watch. "Henan authorities seem to want to sweep their
role in the AIDS epidemic under the rug by silencing protestors."

In the 1990s, millions of villagers in Henan and other central
provinces were infected with HIV through government-managed blood
collection centers. Officials were motivated by the high profits
available from the international blood products industry; for
villagers, the sale of their blood was a much needed source of income.

Demonstrators have called for access to antiretroviral treatment and
care for people with HIV/AIDS, and decried the misappropriation of
state AIDS funding. Government health officials responded to earlier
protests by HIV-positive villagers with promises of aid.  But violence
and arbitrary arrest have been the response in more recent incidents:

 




  -  On May 17, 100 AIDS patients used the World Health
     Organization's (WHO) investigation of SARS in a Wenlou village
     hospital to protest discrimination against HIV-positive patients
     in access to care. They were blocked 100 meters away from the
     hospital by officials. Yang Nidan, who protested the police
     treatment of demonstrators, was severely beaten by police,
     according to international media and Chinese AIDS activists.

  -  From June 19 to 22, five HIV-positive residents of
     Xiongqiao, a village with a high proportion of HIV-positive
     persons, went to Zhengzhou city to present a petition to the
     provincial government about the lack of health care services in
     their village. They were seized and taken back to the village by
     police, according to Chinese AIDS activists. One detainee was
     subsequently released because he was seriously ill.

  -  On June 22, hundreds of Henan police officers raided
     Xiongqiao. They arrested thirteen residents who had allegedly
     participated in a protest to call for the establishment of a
     hospital, and indiscriminately beat other residents, according to
     international media. One of those arrested was subsequently
     released.

Human Rights Watch called on China's State Council to investigate
the Henan blood scandal and the mismanagement of state AIDS funds
in the province, and to hold those responsible to account. Human
Rights Watch also urged international donors and organizations
working on AIDS in China to push Beijing to conduct a thorough
investigation of the province's case of massive HIV transmission.

In recent years, Beijing has become increasingly open to
international assistance in fighting the AIDS epidemic, and has
made moves towards greater transparency about escalating HIV
infection rates. In November 2002, China's ambassador to the
United Nations asked for international assistance in developing
programs to fight the epidemic and committed China to strategies
"setting out clear goals and taking measures for prevention and
treatment, raising public awareness and strengthening health-care
systems, and ensuring monitoring and enforcement."

 




"The deepening coverup in Henan province stands in stark contrast
to Beijing's calls for international cooperation and its pledges
of openness about public health crises," said Csete.

To read more on human rights issues in China, please see:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/china.php