August 30, 2012
A crowd of around 300 AIDS patients and their relatives tore down the main gate outside the Henan provincial government office in Zhengzhou city in central China on Monday. The protesters had originally gathered and blocked the gate to protest unmet demands for financial assistance. "We want the government to give us some help," said Li Xia.
Li, like many of the protesters, was infected during an illegal blood-buying scheme in Henan in the 1990s that was widely considered a failure in government leadership. Under the scheme, collectors paid villagers to donate blood, pooled the untested blood, extracted the valuable plasma, and then re-injected it into those who sold it. Tens of thousands of people became infected with HIV.
According to activists, local courts reject compensation claims made by victims of the scandal, leaving them few avenues for redress. Patients and their families regularly protest outside health bureaus and government offices in the hope of assistance of some form.
Monday's protesters said a local civil affairs official told them in April the government would respond to assistance requests in two months, but help has not been forthcoming. "We had been waiting outside here for so long, and it was raining, but no one cared," said Gao Yanping. "Now they are asking us to wait another two months? We cannot control our anger anymore."