AIDS Activists, Human Rights Advocates Protest Outside Chinese Consulate to Demand Release of Chinese AIDS Activist Wan Yanhai
About 60 human rights and AIDS activists protested outside the Chinese consulate in New York City yesterday demanding the release of Chinese AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, who is allegedly being held by Chinese officials, Agence France-Presse reports. Members from Human Rights in China, ACT UP and the Health GAP Coalition participated in the protest. "The international health community knows how important Dr. Wan's work is. So should the Chinese government. Every day he is detained is a day he cannot work on saving lives," Laurie Wen, a member of ACT UP, said (Agence France-Presse, 9/19). Wan, who founded the AIDS Action Project, was a key figure in exposing the connection between unsafe blood collection practices and HIV infections in Henan province between 1994 and 1997. Officials from the State Security Bureau on Sept. 4 told one of Wan's colleagues that he had been detained for distributing a classified document prepared by the Henan Health Bureau that indicated that officials in the province "were well aware of a serious HIV problem as early as 1995." Chinese officials have not confirmed Wan's whereabouts (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/13). "Wan Yanhai is an expert and a hero for 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, director of Human Rights in China, said. Ralf Jurgens, director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, added, "Wan has been active in bringing to light a public health scandal that Beijing would like to sweep under the rug. He has taken extraordinary risks to break down the conspiracy of silence around AIDS in China and protect the rights of those infected." Wan has been missing since Aug. 24 (Raphael, One World/Yahoo! News, 9/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.