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Chinese activist arrested, baby daughter kept hostage

February 16, 2008

Blogger and humanitarian activist Hu Jia was arrested on 27 December for “inciting subversion of state authority.” Since then he has been in custody, and his wife and two-month-old daughter are under house arrest.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Hu Jia has been a humanitarian activist since the early 1990s. He has worked with HIV prevention, protection of the environment and defending prisoners of conscience. In his work, Jia has been using the Internet, especially his blog and videos, to expose the Chinese regime’s repression of human rights activists. Hu and his wife Zeng were awarded the Reporters Without Borders – Fondation de France special “China” prize at the start of December, and Time magazine named Zeng as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2006.

In China, such relentless campaigning for human rights does not go unpunished. In the spring of 2006 Hu was arrested and held incommunicado for 40 days . On his release, he was placed under house arrest. On 27 December 2007, Hu was arrested again, allegedly for “subverting state authority.”

Hu Jia was taken to the Chaoyang municipal detention centre in a northeastern suburb of Beijing, and his lawyers are prevented from visiting him in prison on the grounds that the case is a “state secret.”

Baby kept hostage

Zeng and the couple’s baby daughter ae kept under house arrest, and unable to contact anyone, including foreign journalists. The police has also threatened Zeng, saying she had better cooperate if she wants to protect the baby.

This brutality has not gone unnoticed. An open letter, signed by more than 90 well-known Chinese figures , describes Hu’s arrest as “unacceptable”, and calls for his immediate release. On 17 january, the European parliament adopted a resolution demanding Hu’s prompt release and urging China not to use the Olympic Games as a pretext to arrest and illegally detain human rights activists. However, Hu is still being held incommunicado as his behavior has been defined as “harmful to society” by the Chinese authorities.

Reporters Without Borders, on the other hand, find that Hu has done nothing but exercise his right to inform, which is guaranteed by article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sign their petition for Hu’s immediate release here! Amnesty International UK has also posted an e-mail draft at their website. Send an e-mail to the Chinese authorities and demand Hu’s release!

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