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Outspoken Chinese AIDS Activist Missing and Feared Detained

August 28, 2002

An outspoken Chinese AIDS activist who publicised the plight of large numbers of farmers infected after selling blood is missing and feared detained by Chinese police, his wife and a rights group said.

Wan Yanhai, who founded and ran the AIDS Action Project, a private non-profit group which advocates rights and services for China's AIDS sufferers, has been missing since Sunday evening, his wife Su Zhaosheng told AFP Wednesday from her home in California, where she is currently studying.

"I haven't been able to reach him on his mobile phone or home phone for days. His mobile phone is switched off and there is no one at home. That's very strange because we talk every day. No matter how late, he always answers the phone," Su said, adding that Wan had also not answered e-mails.

Liu Qing, president of the New York-based Human Rights In China group, said Wan could have been detained.

"I believe it's related to what has happened to him recently. There's a great possibility he's been arrested by Chinese police," Liu said.

"The Chinese government has long not allowed voices other than their own and Wan was a frequent, independent voice on the AIDS problems."

Last month, Wan's group, called Aizhi Xingdong in Chinese, received notice from its partner, a university, to vacate its campus office.

No reason was given, but the university said it received orders from higher authorities to stop cooperating with the group, Wan told AFP at the time.

His staff were called in by police for questioning. Following the eviction, Wan was frequently followed by plainclothes police, Liu said.

Wan and his group had been one of the most active NGOs in China in bringing attention to the plight of peasant AIDS sufferers.

His group's website has published names of farmers who died of AIDS after selling blood in villages in central China's Henan province, where the scandal was first revealed.

He has published his essays on the website and told reporters in interviews that the government allowed blood stations to be set up in the countryside in 1980s to mid-1990s, leading to large numbers of infections.

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