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ACT UP Pickets Chinese Consulate: Release Dr. Wan!

September 18, 2002

For more information, CONTACT
SharonAnn Lynch: 646-645-5225
Laurie Wen 917-443-4121
Kate Krauss 215-731-1844

China's #1 AIDS Activist Detained While China Seeks $90 Million from the UN for AIDS

September 19 @ 12 noon, Chinese Consulate, 520 12th Avenue

ACT UP New York and Human Rights in China, in an unprecedented coalition, are co-sponsoring a peaceful picket at the Chinese Consulate in New York to call for the release of Wan Yanhai, China’s foremost AIDS activist who was detained by police in Beijing August 24. US and Chinese activists will speak about Dr. Wan’s AIDS work; they will also fly banners and carry picket signs with large photos of Dr. Wan. The extremely diverse crowd will range from members of the Chinese American Planning Council, New York's largest Chinese American organization, to New York AIDS physicians.

Wan was detained while the United Nations is considering its application for $90 million for AIDS relief--an epidemic that was revealed to the international community by Wan Yanhai. A decision from the UN Global Fund for AIDS is expected soon.

Speakers will include statements by Amnesty International and by famous Chinese dissidents such as Wang Dan, as well as anonymous statements by Chinese activists read by others because of fear of reprisal.

On September 13, Dr. Wan Yanhai would have been received in person an award honoring his work on HIV/AIDS and human rights from Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Wan exposed the blood selling scandal run by local officials in the Henan province, in which 500,000 to 1 million poor farmers were infected with AIDS.

Says ACT UP’s Laurie Wen: "Dr. Wan is leading the fight against AIDS in China. He’s got to be released-he needs to keep working and saving lives." The United Nations estimates that at the current infection rate, China will have 10 million citizens with HIV/AIDS by 2010.

Adds Eustacia Smith of Health GAP: “Dr. Wan is an AIDS expert who trying to avert a catastrophe in China--both for public health and because economic development could stop in its tracks under the burden of a huge AIDS epidemic. He deserves to be honored."

“Dr. Wan Yanhai is an expert and a hero in addressing and exposing China’s coming AIDS epidemic. We demand his unconditional release and urge the Chinese government to allow him to continue his invaluable work in his own country.” Xiao Qiang, Executive Director, Human Rights in China.

Dr. Wan, 38, is a physician and recent Fulbright grant recipient operates a web site which is one of the only independent sources of AIDS information for China. Through it, he helped expose blood selling businesses in the Henan province that lead to the HIV infection of as many as 1 million poor farmers. He founded the first telephone hotline for people with AIDS in China and has organized AIDS support groups.

China is currently awaiting word on a $90 million grant from the United Nations Global Fund for AIDS. In addition, Chinese President Jiang Zemin is slated to visit President George Bush in late October. Activists are asking the Global Fund and other UN agencies to advocate for Wan’s release. They are also calling on President George Bush to request Wan’s release when Jiang Zemin comes to the US next month. “When the Chinese President comes to Crawford for his coveted ranch date with Bush, the President should put the detention of Dr. Wan at the top of the agenda,” said Mark Milano of ACT UP New York.