Aids activist tells of ordeal in detention

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 March, 2006, 12:00am

Newly freed Aids activist Hu Jia yesterday said he went on hunger strike for a month during his six weeks of detention.

Mr Hu, 32, was released on Tuesday after being detained by state security police on February 16. His friend, Qi Zhiyong, whose left leg was amputated after he was shot during the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, was freed on the same day. He had been arrested on February 15, according to Mr Hu.

The pair, together with lawyer Gao Zhisheng, were leaders of a nationwide hunger strike campaign that started on February 4 to call for an end to violent suppression of activists.

Mr Hu said he survived on thin soup for 30 days after a state security official asked him if the hunger strikers were actually going without food at home.

'The feeling of hunger was so acute,' he said. 'They detained me because they wanted an end to the hunger strike campaign. They also wanted to show others - the general participants - that whoever wanted to join would end up being detained like me.

'I ended the strike after a month [in detention] because if I had died, who would be the happiest? I still have a long battle [with the authorities].'

Mr Hu said about seven security officials had watched him round the clock while he was detained in two guesthouses, even when he was having a shower or using the toilet.

'In the first 10 days I had to leave the washroom door open, with the security officials watching me from outside. It was hugely humiliating,' he said, adding he had been handled roughly several times.

Though released, the detention and the hunger strike have probably cost the activist his health, with medical results obtained yesterday showing he has the early stages of liver cirrhosis.

A previous medical check-up before the Lunar New Year showed the hepatitis B carrier's liver condition was improving.