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Chinese Activist Detained by Police, Immediate Action Needed

September 6, 2002

Dr. Wan Yan Hai, China's foremost AIDS activist, disappeared in Beijing on August 24. According to Liang Yen Yen, one of the coordinators of Dr. Wan's Aizhi (AIDS) Action Project, he has been detained and is being "examined" by the Chinese Ministry of State Security. He is accused of exposing state secrets; namely the AIDS epidemic in China's Henan province brought on by blood selling.

Dr. Wan's wife Su Zhaosheng has called on AIDS activists and other allies to help in the effort to expedite his release.

Dr. Wan, 38, is a noted free speech advocate who founded the first AIDS telephone hotline in China and operates an important AIDS information web site. A current Fulbright scholar, Dr. Wan is studying the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs in the U.S. and China.

For the past decade, Dr.Wan has been working on HIV prevention education, gay & lesbian rights, mental health issues, the rights of people with HIV, and religious issues. He is the 2002 winner of the Human Rights Watch Award for Action on HIV and Human Rights.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists:

"Wan has also been an outspoken opponent of new Internet regulations, enacted August 1, which require publishers of all China-based Web sites to register with the government and censor their content or risk being shut down. In late July, Wan and 17 others initiated a "Declaration of Internet Citizens' Rights," which called for freedom of expression, association, and information on the Internet.

"Reporting on AIDS is strictly censored in China's press, and Chinese and foreign journalists who investigate the topic have faced harassment or detention. Because of this, Wan Yan Hai's Web site has become one of the only independent sources of information on the disease in China."

In July, Aizhi Action Project was shut down and stripped of its legal registration by the Chinese government.

Dr. Wan's disappearance, which has been covered extensively by The New York Times, National Public Radio and other news outlets, has prompted an international reaction. On September 2, activists held a protest in Hong Kong.

Amnesty International issued an international appeal for immediate letters on his behalf, and U.S. AIDS activists have issued their own appeals.

On September 2, 2002, Amnesty International asked that letters and emails for Dr. Wan's release be sent immediately to Chinese officials in Beijing and to Chinese embassies throughout the world. To a send such a message, check:

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2002 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

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