China detaining activists ahead of legislative session

China's government is detaining political and health activists and warning others not to protest as its ceremonial parliament prepares to open its annual session, activists and human rights groups said Friday.

Thousands of people from around China visit Beijing each year during the parliament session, hoping to air complaints about corruption and other problems. Police routinely detain them and send them home.

This year, those detained or warned include AIDS patients who want better medical care and people who have petitioned the government over the loss of their homes for redevelopment.

Liu Xinjuan, an activist who has previously complained about urban homes being demolished without proper compensation, was sent home to Shanghai from Beijing and forced in to a mental hospital, said New York-based watchdog group Human Rights in China.

A woman who answered the phone at Shanghai's Minxin Mental Health Center confirmed on Friday that Liu was there.

The woman, who identified herself only by the surname Zhang, refused to give any details about Liu's case, or say when she would be released.

Also, police have warned about 10 people in the southern province of Henan, who say they were infected with HIV by an unsanitary blood-buying scheme, not to go to Beijing, veteran health activist Wan Yanhai, who is based in the capital, said earlier.

Farmers, laid-off workers and evicted families travel to Beijing from China's remote, impoverished hinterlands every year, hoping to explain their problems to delegates at China's annual National People's Congress, reports the AP.

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