Chinese AIDS activist plans to accuse government

A prominent AIDS activist who accuses Chinese security forces of abducting and holding him for 41 days said Friday he will sue the government for improperly detaining him. Hu Jia, who was released Tuesday, said it appeared he was taken because he helped spearhead a hunger strike by activists to protest violence against dissidents. "I can't keep quiet about this," Hu said in an interview at a Beijing cafe while plainclothes security agents watched from a distance. "I must take these actions to file a lawsuit and let them know that the Chinese people will still let their voices be heard."

Telephones at the Beijing Public Security Bureau, whose officers Hu said took part in the kidnapping, were not answered Friday. Hu, one of the country's brashest activists, has regular run-ins with authorities. In 2004, he said he was placed under house arrest to prevent him from traveling to a village in the central province of Henan with a high incidence of AIDS while a U.S. Embassy delegation was visiting.

Hu said he had been under surveillance to prevent him from having contact with Gao Zhisheng, the outspoken lawyer who initiated the hunger strike Feb. 6. Gao has said more than 1,000 people from all over the country, including prominent dissidents, had volunteered to join. At least six people who participated in the strike or had ties to Gao have been detained or disappeared in recent months.

Hu said that on Feb. 16, an unmarked car with four "very fierce looking men in their 40s" approached him while he was on his way to a meeting. He got in without suspicion because plainclothes policemen frequently escorted him to places as part of his surveillance. But when the car got to a quiet area in the suburbs of Beijing , Hu said one of the men in front said, "Hold him down."

Hu said his glasses were removed and a black hood thrown over his head. His armed were pinned to his back and he was shoved face-down toward the floor. "The car was driving erratically, sometimes braking, sometimes accelerating," said Hu, 32. "I vomited because I felt sick. I had no idea where I was."

He said he passed out and when he awoke, up to eight policemen had surrounded the hotel room bed he was lying on and were watching him. The room was bare except for a television and a flower vase.

Hu said he smashed the vase over his head in hopes that he would be taken to the hospital and allowed to go home. But those watching him picked up the pieces and another man, who appeared to be higher-ranking, came in and said: "You can't leave here. We have our orders."

Hu said that later that evening, three plainclothes officers from the State Security arm of the Public Security Bureau questioned him for about 90 minutes about his involvement with Gao's hunger strike and how it had been organized. "They made menacing gestures to intimidate me while they asked their questions," Hu said. "I told them nothing. My two answers to everything were 'I have nothing to say' and 'You can look it up on the Internet."'

Hu said the men occasionally conferred with someone outside the room who was watching the proceedings through a crack in the door. He said that after the first day, he wasn't questioned again and was left alone. The bathroom door had no lock and he read or occasionally watched television with his captors.

He said he refused food and drink the first five days but was told that if he didn't eat, he would be forced fed. He said that for the next 30 days, he ate a watery gruel two or three times a day and lost at least 10 kilograms (22 pounds). Hu, who suffers from cirrhosis, said his condition was aggravated because he had no medication. "Never in my life did I think I would feel this kind of hunger. I was dizzy. I couldn't see well. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't walk properly," Hu said. "My stomach was constantly thinking about food."

He was then moved to another location a hotel room with rats because "the police presence was getting too big and they were afraid to draw attention." On March 28, Hu's captors told him that he was going to be released and he was hooded again and dropped off four kilometers (2.5 miles) from his home. They gave no reason.

Hu said they warned him: "There's no use in fighting. You've suffered so much for so long. ... Your friends and family are so worried. If you don't want this to happen again, stay away from sensitive activities." Hu said before he was let go, a diary he kept while he was being held and "all traces of my captivity was removed from my body." "All evidence was destroyed," he said, reports the AP.

N.U.