Seven farmers, including several with AIDS who demanded better government assistance, were set free last week after spending over a week in a Shangcai county detention center in China's Henan province. Local authorities said the villagers, who are mostly from the AIDS-burdened Wenlou village, were detained for "violating social order." However, villagers said five of them were arrested for appealing to Henan's capital to help get local officials to discharge their agreement to repair the dilapidated homes of HIV/AIDS patients. One detainee, Kong Wanli, said he was detained because of rumors Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao would visit, and local officials did not desire the presence of outspoken villagers. That visit never materialized. The detentions violated China's constitution and international law, said Sara Davis of the Asia Division for Human Rights Watch, which had demanded the villagers' release.
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