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HIV/AIDS Activist Wan Yanhai Detained

September 5, 2002


Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received information that Chinese HIV/AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, who disappeared on August 24, 2002, has been detained. According to Liang Yan, one of the coordinators of the Aizhi (AIDS) Action Project, on September 4 at 1:30 P.M. Beijing time, an official from the Ministry of State Security informed him that Wan Yanhai is being detained and is under examination (shen cha) for leaking “state secrets.” The Ministry of State Security views Wan’s research and report that revealed the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Henan Province as a disclosure of “state secrets.”

Wan’s wife, Su Zhaosheng, who currently lives in Los Angeles, California, learned of the news and demanded the appropriate authorities to immediately establish direct contact with her. “I am extremely worried about [Wan’s] health and safety. I hope that the appropriate authorities will contact me immediately, allow me to speak directly with Wan and allow him his family visitation rights,” said Su.

Su continued, “I know my husband. Wan would not engage in any activity that is harmful to the country and its people. I hope all the HIV/AIDS activists and friends of Wan will come to his assistance to expedite his release.”

Wan Yanhai is an activist on HIV/AIDS education who divides his time between Los Angeles and Beijing. Wan established the HIV/AIDS Hotline in Beijing in 1992, a project of the Health Education Institute. However, in 1993, the PRC Health Ministry criticized Wan for his advocacy for human rights and his support for health issues concerning homosexuals and sex workers. After he was expelled from his post in 1994 due to this sensitive work, Wan established the Aizhi Action Project. The Project focuses on promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention within Chinese society, protecting the rights of HIV/AIDS patients and supporting equal rights for gays and lesbians. From 1994-1997, Wan played a key role in exposing the connection between blood transfusions and HIV/AIDS in Henan. After he spent a year as a visiting scholar at the University of Southern California in 1997, he continued his HIV/AIDS activism and education work internationally. Since July 2002, he has returned to China to continue the Aizhi Action Project.

Human Rights in China (HRIC) expresses grave concern about Wan’s detention that violates international human rights law, including freedom of expression and the right to information. “Wan’s crucial work on HIV/AIDS education is not only important humanitarian work, it also addresses critical public health needs in the PRC. If there is any crime committed here against the Chinese or the world, it is the government’s on-going suppression of information on this urgent health crisis,” said HRIC Executive Director Xiao Qiang. HRIC demands the Ministry of State Security and all relevant authorities to immediately release Wan, and to officially recognize the critical efforts of Wan and his colleagues.

For more information, contact:
Xiao Qiang (English) 212-239-4495
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495

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