Chinese AIDS Activist Released!................................ LINKS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE


BREAKIING NEWS: Friday 20 September 2002
Wan Yan Hai has been released!

I just talked to Wan Yan Hai over the phone.
He has just been released a few hours ago.
Thank god.
He sounded cheerful.
He said he was kept in Beijing all the time.
I asked if he was hurt physically, and he said he was not hurt.
He would like to thank all the people who cared about him.
Will keep you updated.
-- Chung

another Forwarded Message ------

Ms. Su Zhaosheng, wife of Dr. Wan Yanhai, would like to let you
know that Dr. Wan has been released. She wants to thank you on our
efforts in securing the release of Dr. Wan.

Except for the fact that Dr. Wan has now returned to his
apartment in Beijing, there is no other information.

This is one of the shortest case of detention in China that I
have worked on. You are just an absolutely wonderful, fantastic group
of people who have come together for a common cause!
My hats off to you all!
..--Ann Lau (Friend of Dr. Wan's wife in Los Angeles)



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 Yen Yen, 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 an exposition 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

According to the Executive Director of Human Rights in China, Wan's fate depends on whether the international community, specifically the international AIDS community, speaks out and demands Wan's release loudly and publicly. He says that big public displays focusing on Wan's AIDS work and its importance are key (Wan is in jail for publishing a report on China's AIDS epidemic). Piot's public letter asking about Wan was important. Your letter is also crucial. What happens in the next couple weeks is really important. Please write to the Chinese Officials listed below.


(520 12th Avenue at 42nd Street)** co-sponsored by Human Rights In China

Dr. Wan Yanhai, the foremost AIDS activist in mainland China, disappeared on the evening of August 24th in Beijing. He is an internationally known advocate who has helped many people affected by AIDS by providing crucial health information through his organization's web site.

Reporting on AIDS is strictly censored in China's press, and Chinese and foreign journalists who investigate the topic have faced harassment or detention. Because of this, Wan Yanhai's Web site has become one of the only independent sources of information on the disease in China.

The Chinese Government has now confirmed that Dr. Wan has been arrested and possibly charged with disseminating state secrets. This could mean detention of unspecified length...we must come out in support of Wan Yanhai and his work!

Chinese Human Rights activists have urged public displays of protest that are respectful but powerful. Please join us to demand Dr. Wan's release and the Chinese Government's support--not obstruction--in the fight against AIDS in China.




Beijing, Aug. 28, 2002: China's most prominent AIDS activist has disappeared, apparently detained by China's security services, human rights groups and relatives said. The activist, Wan Yanhai, is a former Chinese health official who was fired after he took up the causes of gay rights and AIDS in the mid-1990's. He has been involved in various small but influential projects in the last few years, including a Web site about H.I.V. and the creation of small support groups for patients. He has also been instrumental in exposing a devastating AIDS epidemic in central China that is centered on Henan Province, where as many as a million poor farmers were infected through unsanitary blood collection schemes. Dr. Wan divides his time between China and the United States, where his wife is a student.

He was last seen on Saturday night, attending a gay and lesbian film screening in Beijing. Friends have gone to the Public Security Bureau there to demand his release, according to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Hong Kong. The bureau did not respond today to a request for information. His disappearance and possible detention come at a crucial time, as China is contemplating plans for a more aggressive strategy to combat a growing epidemic of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. The government is about to submit a major proposal to the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, requesting millions of dollars to be used for AIDS in some of the epidemic areas that Dr. Wan first exposed. But his treatment in recent months reflects Chinese officials' persistent ambivalence about the kind of openness about AIDS that virtually all experts agree is necessary to reverse the crisis.

Dr. Wan's wife, Su Zhaosheng, said by telephone from Los Angeles that she had not heard from him since late last week, and attempts to contact him by phone and e-mail have all been fruitless. "I have been unable to reach him, and he never mentioned to our relatives in Beijing that he was going away on business," Ms. Su said. "We usually talk every night. This has never happened before."

This summer, Dr. Wan and his small band of volunteers in China have come under increasing surveillance and harrassment as his projects have become more ambitious - for example, helping groups of people with AIDS to organize petitions pushing the government to provide treatment. People who have had even brief contact with him have sometimes been questioned by representatives of China's State Security apparatus. This summer his group, the AIDS Action Project, was forced to vacate its small office at a Beijing academic institute. Those familiar with his Web site ( speculate that he may have given State Security authorities an excuse to take further action last week by posting an internal document prepared by health authorities in Henan that included statistics about the H.I.V. epidemic there.

see also his report: China Health News And the Henan Province Health Scandal Cover-up

Although the document contained little new information, some experts who have been involved with the H.I.V. issue speculated that the authorities might contend that it was a state secret, making Dr. Wan vulnerable to arrest under Chinese law.

Through his work, Dr. Wan has earned the admiration of foreigners and the enmity of Chinese officials. Last year he accepted a prestigious health award from Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, on behalf of Dr. Gao Yaojie, a retired Chinese doctor who works with rural AIDS patients. Chinese officials had refused Dr. Gao a passport, keeping her from going to the United States for the award. A small, soft-spoken man who generally works behind the scenes, Dr. Wan nonetheless absorbed some of the confrontational style of American AIDS activists during a 1997 fellowship in Los Angeles. At a regional AIDS meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malyasia, two years ago, Dr. Wan rose from the audience to confront China's vice minister of health, who was at the podium. More recently he has been involved in creating support and counseling groups for people with AIDS in rural China.

Last week, the Health Ministry received two petitions, which Dr. Wan's group had helped prepare, from farmers suffering from AIDS. "We demand that the government provide free medicine, or medicine we can afford, and we demand the government produce copies of Western medicines as quickly as possible," read one petition, signed by 30 patients from Sui County in Henan. Countries like India, Thailand and Brazil all now produce or buy cheap generic copies of the powerful AIDS drugs that have been so successful in the West. The Chinese government has rejected that route, saying it might be seen as a violation of patents under World Trade Organization rules. As a result, treatment with the recommended AIDS "cocktail" of drugs now costs about 10 times as much in China as in Thailand, making it unaffordable to almost all sufferers. The petition says that the villagers sold blood at the behest of local medical authorities and at blood stations approved by the government, and so patients should have the right to compensation. It also points out that China's AIDS prevention and control plan for 2001 through 2005 sets a goal of providing community and home care for at least half of the country's H.I.V. patients by the end of 2002.

The deadline for China's submission of its application to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is next month. The fund, with $2 billion at its disposal, is a partnership among the United Nations, governments, charities and private corporations, dedicated to subsidizing the battle against AIDS in the developing world.

If Dr. Wan has been detained under state secrets charges, he could be held for a long period without explanation and would lose many of the protections stipulated under China's Criminal Procedure Code, like the right to a lawyer. Convictions on such charges almost always carry long prison terms.

Dear Activists:

Dr. Wan Yanhai, a free speech advocate (especially freedom on the internet) and the foremost AIDS activist in mainland China, disappeared on the evening of August 24 after viewing a film in Beijing. While many details of this situation remain unclear, the police were following him, his AIDS organization was recently kicked out of its offices by the authorities and his colleagues have been under surveillance and brought in for questioning. Activists outside China have been unable to reach his associates or contact him personally since August 24.

The UN estimates that there will be 10 million people with HIV in China by 2010 (there are fewer than 1 million in the US) but Chinese officials are denying that there is a problem and persecuting AIDS activists. In this climate, being an AIDS activist takes unbelievable courage. One real thing that US activists can do to support them is deliver solidarity messages when they are thrown in jail.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists:

"Reporting on AIDS is strictly censored in China's press, and Chinese and foreign journalists who investigate the topic have faced harassment or detention. Because of this, Wan Yanhai's Web site has become one of the only independent sources of information on the disease in China.

Wan has also been an outspoken opponent of new Internet regulations, enacted August 1, which require publishers of all China-based Web sites to register with the government and censor their content or risk being shut down. In late July, Wan and 17 others initiated a "Declaration of Internet Citizens' Rights," which called for freedom of expression, association, and information on the Internet."

Below is suggested text for messages to the Chinese officials listed. Amnesty International's statement follows.

Please consider the very dire situation of Dr. Wan Yanhai
and act in solidarity for him -- send messages as soon as you receive this action alert

Activists at Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and Human Rights in China, **strongly discourage people from voicing any anger or criticism at Chinese officials**; instead, they say that a deluge of polite faxes and emails is key to getting the point across right now.

So take the time, the minute you receive this message, to fax or email these officials. Nothing beats faxing China directly, so they can watch the pages roll into their offices and feel the pressure directly. So fax them in China if you are able.

I am beginning to receive messages cc'd to me from all over the world--please distribute this message widely--but respond to it yourself first.

Post Script: * I just faxed China for the first time; it was really easy. I just added "011" to the numbers listed below and faxed a letter out of my computer. My one-page high resolution faxes took only 30 seconds each at superslow 1440 baud rate (I timed them so people would know). So give it a shot-reach out and touch the Chinese government.

Katie Krauss, ACT UP Philadelphia (founded by Kiyoshi Kuromiya)


September 1st, 2002

SUBJECT: [your Country name] Advocates are Deeply Concerned Over Wan Yanhai

Your Excellency:

I am deeply concerned by the disappearance of AIDS advocate Wan Yanhai. Dr.
Wan had been under police surveillance and was last seen in Beijing on
August 24. His friends and associates have not been able to contact him,
and police officials have not yet responded to requests for an investigation
into his disappearance.

Dr. Wan has been working to stop the AIDS epidemic that has decimated other
parts of the world and currently threatens China. He is an internationally
known advocate who has helped many people affected by AIDS by providing
health information through his organization's web site.

Dr. Wan was last seen on the evening of August 24 while attending a film
screening in Beijing. Dr. Wan's wife, Su Zhaosheng, has filed a
missing-persons report with the Beijing Public Security Bureau.

*I respectfully ask you to order an immediate investigation into his
whereabouts, and, if he is in custody, I request his immediate and
unconditional release.

*I ask you to insure that Wan Yanhai receives full access to his family,
lawyers and medical treatment.

The world is watching this case carefully. I urgently await your response.


[ Your Name ]
[ Your Address ]


Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
TANG Jiaxuan Buzhang
2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Beijingshi 100701
People's Republic of China
Telegram: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Beijing, China
Fax: + 86 10 6596 3374
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
JIA Chunwang Buzhang
14 Dongchanganjie
Beijingshi 100741
People's Republic of China
Telegram: Minister of Public Security, Beijing, China
Telexes: 210070 FMPRC CN
Fax: + 86 10 6524 1596
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Public Health of the People's Republic of China
ZHANG Wenkang Buzhang
1 Xizhimenwai
Xicheng District
Beijingshi 100044
People's Republic of China
Telegram: Minister of Public Security, Beijing, China
Salutation: Your Excellency


The Chinese Medical Association
Fax: +86 10 6512 3754
China Society for Human Rights Studies
Fax: + 86 10 82008118
People's Government of Zhengzhou City,
Henan Province
Foreign Affairs Office of Zhengzhou
Fax: + 86 371 7976070

ALSO SEND to diplomatic representatives of the People's Republic of China accredited to your country >>>


Ambassador Yang Jiechi
Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the U.S.
2300 Connecticut Ave., NW,
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 328-2500 Fax: (202) 588-0032
Mr. Wei Ruixing
Consul General
of the People's Republic of China in Chicago
100 West Erie St.
Chicago, IL 60610
tel (312) 803-0109 Consul General's Direct Number
Fax (312) 803-0105 Consul General's Direct Fax
Mr. Zhong Jianhua
Consul General
of the People's Republic of China in Los Angeles
443 Shatto Place,
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Consul General Mr. Wang Yunxiang
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in San Francisco
1450 Laguna St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Tel: (415) 674-2900
Fax: (415) 563-0494



Consul General Hu Yeshun
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Houston
3417 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006
Tel: (713) 524-4311
Fax: (713) 524-7656
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York
520 12th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Los Angeles
443 Shatto Place
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Tel: (213) 807-8088
Fax: (213) 380-1961

World-Wide List of Chinese Embassies and Consulates
.... . ... .... .


Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 14 October 2002.

Possible disappearance / fear for safety

COUNTRY: People's Republic of China
NAME: Wan Yanhai (m)

Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of Dr. Wan Yanhai, a Chinese HIV/AIDS activist, who reportedly went missing on or around 24 August 2002, and is feared to have been detained by the Chinese police. According to reports, Dr Wan was last seen on 24 August 2002 in Beijing at a gay and lesbian film screening. All attempts by his family to contact him have failed and the Chinese authorities have so far failed to respond to requests about his whereabouts. Unconfirmed reports suggest that he was under surveillance by the police, apparently in connection with his HIV/AIDS activism and support for health issues concerning lesbians and gay men and sex workers in China.

Wan Yanhai is the founder of the Aizhi (AIDS) Action Project, a group which focuses on the promotion of HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in China, and the advocacy of the rights of people with AIDS. Other members of the Aizhi Action Project have reportedly been subjected to surveillance and have been questioned since the group started organizing petitions to the government for better treatment.

A former health official in Beijing, Wan Yanhai was expelled from his post in 1994 after receiving criticism from the Ministry of Health in connection with his involvement in HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and support for lesbian and gay rights.

Since founding the Aizhi Action Project in 1994, Wan Yanhai has played a prominent role in publicising the extent of the spread of AIDS, including by highlighting the connection between blood transfusions and HIV/AIDS in Henan province. He has published on the Aizhi Action Project's website,, lists of people who apparently died in Henan province of HIV/AIDS related illnesses after selling blood between late 1980s and mid 1990s to government-sanctioned blood collectors.

In July 2002 the Aizhi Action Project was forced to move out of their office when its partner institute allegedly received orders from the authorities to stop cooperating with the group. According to Xinhua, the state-run news agency, the government is stepping up measures to keep the number of Chinese HIV/AIDS patients below 1.5 million by 2010. However, a UN report published in June 2002 estimates that by 2010 the number of HIV infected people in China could rise to 10 million if effective measures are not taken.

Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Chinese, English
or your own language:

Associated Press, September 2, 2002

Hong Kong Protesters Urge Probe Of AIDS Activist's Disappearance

HONG KONG (AP) - Rights campaigners marched to China's representative office here Monday and urged Beijing to investigate and publicly explain last month's disappearance of a mainland AIDS activist. But security guards at the Chinese government liaison office shut the gates and tossed a petition letter back to the protesters several times before finally tearing it apart, said Hong Kong activist Christine Or. "This is totally unreasonable," Or said. The roughly 20 protesters later dispersed peacefully, she said.

Wan Yanhai exposed the spread of AIDS in the central Chinese province of Henan through blood-buying businesses that re-injected people with contaminated blood.

Wan disappeared on Aug. 24, according to the New York-based group Human Rights in China, a few weeks after officials shut down his offices on the mainland and stripped his organization of its legal registration. Wan's wife and friends said he was last seen leaving a gay and lesbian film event at a Beijing cafe before driving off to meet an unknown caller. Wan reportedly was last seen being followed by another vehicle.

Wan's high-profile and politically sensitive work had antagonized some Chinese officials. An official at the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong who identified himself by the surname Chan said no one there would comment on Monday's protest.

August 28, 2002

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, 12th floor
New York, NY 10001

His Excellency Jiang Zemin
President, People's Republic of China
C/o Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Via facsimile: (202) 588-0032

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned about the safety of Web publisher Wan Yanhai, who has been missing in Beijing since Saturday, August 24. We call on the government to conduct a swift and thorough investigation into his whereabouts.

Wan, coordinator of the AIDS Action Project and publisher of the group's Web site, was last seen on the evening of August 24 while attending a film screening in Beijing. Wan's wife, Su Zhaosheng, who is studying in Los Angeles, today filed a missing-persons report with the Beijing Public Security Bureau.

Wan, a former employee of the Ministry of Health, started the AIDS Action Project in 1994 to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in China and support the rights of AIDS victims. Notably, his reporting for the project's Web site has exposed an AIDS epidemic in Henan Province, where huge numbers of peasants acquired the disease after selling their blood at government-supported clinics. The United Nations has predicted that 10 million people in China could be infected with HIV during the next eight years.

In June 2002, Beijing authorities closed down the offices of the AIDS Action Project. Since then, several of Wan's employees have been called in for questioning, and Wan has been followed by plainclothes police officers, according to Su Zhaosheng. The Web site (, which is hosted on a server outside China, is still accessible.

Reporting on AIDS is strictly censored in your country's press, and Chinese and foreign journalists who investigate the topic have faced harassment or detention. Because of this, Wan Yanhai's Web site has become one of the only independent sources of information on the disease in China.

Wan has also been an outspoken opponent of new Internet regulations, enacted August 1, which require publishers of all China-based Web sites to register with the government and censor their content or risk being shut down. In late July, Wan and 17 others initiated a "Declaration of Internet Citizens' Rights," which called for freedom of expression, association, and information on the Internet.

CPJ fears that authorities may have detained Wan Yanhai because of his work. We respectfully urge Your Excellency to order an immediate investigation into his whereabouts, and, if he has been arrested, we call for his immediate and unconditional release.

Furthermore, we urge Your Excellency to take steps to ensure that authorities do not prevent independent reporting about AIDS in China, which is an urgent public health issue facing the country and the entire world. We also ask that publishers of independent Web sites, such as the AIDS Action Project, be allowed to operate free of official interference or harassment.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.

Sincerely, Ann Cooper, Executive Director

Premier Zhu Rongji
Zhang Fusen, Minister of Justice, Beijing
Ma Zhenchuan, Director, Beijing Public Security Bureau
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Amnesty International
Article 19 (United Kingdom)
Artikel 19 (The Netherlands)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Human Rights Watch
Index on Censorship
International Center for Journalists
International Federation of Journalists
International PEN
International Press Institute
Lorne W. Craner, United States Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human
Rights, and Labor
The Newspaper Guild
The North American Broadcasters Association
Overseas Press Club
Reporters Sans Frontières
Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Society of Professional Journalists
World Association of Newspapers
Press Freedom Committee

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, 12th floor
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212-465-1004
Fax: 212-465-9568
Web: ____________________________September 20, 2002: CPJ welcomes the release of Wan Yanhai-Press Release

Dear colleagues:

Please find pasted below the text of a press release issued jointly by Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network today regarding the disappearance of Dr. Wan Yan Hai in Beijing. Additional information can be found at

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network & Human Rights Watch

For immediate release
Concern escalates over missing Chinese AIDS activist
Dr. Wan Yan Hai slated for human rights award

NEW YORK AND MONTREAL, August 29, 2002 -- Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network today expressed increasing concern about missing Chinese AIDS activist Wan Yanhai. Dr. Wan had planned to travel to Canada in September as the first recipient of a newly established human rights award. The award, to be presented by both organizations on September 13 in Montreal, recognizes Dr. Wan's courageous activism in combating a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in China, and efforts to protect the rights of those affected or most at risk of HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Wan has contributed enormously to breaking the conspiracy of silence around AIDS in China,=94 said Richard Elliott, Director, Policy and Research for the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. =93If he is in government custody, we urge his immediate release, and that he be allowed to travel to Canada to receive his award.=94

Dr. Wan, thirty-eight, had been under heightened police surveillance and was last seen in Beijing on August 24. Friends and relatives have been unable to contact him, and police officials have not responded to requests for an investigation into his disappearance.

Since the mid-1990s, Dr. Wan has been coordinator of the AIZHI (AIDS) Action Project, a nongovernmental organization based in Beijing that provides some of the only basic information on HIV/AIDS available to people in China through a widely used Web site ( He has been instrumental in exposing a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in China=92s Henan Province, where as many as one million people may have been infected as a result of unsafe blood collection practices. In July 2002, Dr. Wan;s organization was evicted from its offices at a private university in Beijing after the university was pressured by the government to shut the organization down.

Dr. Wan was selected earlier this summer to be the first recipient of an "Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights," an international award program established this year by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch to recognize activists who have made exceptional contributions to protecting the rights and dignity of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

We recently assisted Dr. Wan in obtaining a visa from the Canadian Embassy in Beijing in order for him to attend the awards ceremony in Montreal, and his travel arrangements have been made, said Elliott. We have now contacted officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, asking them to make further inquiries through their office in Beijing, and we are urging the Canadian government to raise concerns about Dr. Wan's whereabouts and well-being with the Chinese government as soon as possible.

Many health experts fear that the AIDS epidemic in China is developing into one of the worst in the world, said Mickey Spiegel, senior researcher in the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. It is only through the actions of people like Dr. Wan that there is any hope of dealing forthrightly with this public health and human rights disaster. Unfortunately, his courage in speaking out against human rights abuses in China has placed him at great personal risk.=94

As a government official, Dr. Wan founded China's first AIDS hotline in 1992. A year later, he was fired from that post, as openness about HIV/AIDS and sexual minorities and their risk of contracting HIV was not welcomed by the authorities. With support from a variety of private and international sources, he has continued this work and become one of the most visible AIDS activists in the China.

Media Contact:
Jean Dussault, (514) 708-0128
Mickey Spiegel, (212) 216-1229

Additional information about Dr. Wan's human rights work and about the Awards for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, is available online at

.South China Morning Post.. September 12, 2002
Missing AIDS Activist's Study Released

"I am not afraid of the secret police detaining me as well, I welcome the opportunity," says friend

As the disappearance of Wan Yanhai enters its 19th day, friends of the prominent Aids activist yesterday released his report on the severity of the epidemic in Henan province which has left scores of children orphaned. Hu Jia said Mr Wan finished the report he was preparing for a conference on Aids organised by the Hong Kong Catholic Society a day before he went missing on August 24. "Not only am I not afraid of the secret police detaining me as well, I actually welcome the opportunity to speak with them," Mr Hu declared as he made public the report.

Amnesty International believes Mr Wan, 38, may have been detained by security personnel for releasing a report on the Internet about Aids in Henan province. Mr Hu vowed to push forward the work of the Aizhi (Aids) Action Project. "We want more than anything to work within the law and to help the government collect information that will prevent orphaned children - the most innocent victims of the disease - from dying of neglect," Mr Hu said.

The report Mr Wan prepared on August 23 says that not only does Henan province suffer from a more severe infection rate that officially admitted, but also that children who have lost one or both parents to the disease have been largely ignored. These children are in most cases being cared for by ageing grandparents, who have little means of financial support. Mr Wan says information collected from various groups points to there being between one million and two million HIV-positive people in Henan province. For every adult who is infected, at least one child is severely affected. The report focuses on the discrepancies between official reports and the group's investigation of the Aids epidemic in Shangcai county, an area decimated by infections caused largely by officially sponsored unsanitary blood collection before 1995.

"According to Aizhi's investigations, there are at least 35,000 people who have been infected with HIV or died from the disease in Shangcai county alone," says the report, adding that the county now has 3,500 children who have lost one or both parents. In Shangcai county's Houyang village, a small hamlet with only 4,000 residents, Mr Wan's group has tallied 160 people who have died from full-blown Aids, leaving 104 orphans, and 82 children who have been forced to drop out of school because of economic hardship.

The report also charges the government has not provided adequate financial assistance, with infected residents receiving 50 yuan (HK$42) per month for medical fees. The government of Shancai's Wenlou village originally said it would cancel the school fees of children whose families have been touched by the disease, but the assistance has now been stopped. Before he disappeared, Mr Wan and Mr Hu were working to re-register their group as the Aizhi (Aids) Health and Education Research Institute.

South China Morning Post, September 12, 2002

China AIDS Activist Riled Officials
by Robert Marquand. The Christian Science Monitor .September 3, 2002

.. < excerpt > ...see complete article

Wan is best known for helping to expose a scandalous blood-plasma buying scheme in China's poor and populous central Henan Province. Bad blood bought from intravenous drug users in the mid-to late-1990s was added to stockpiles that infected as many as a million farmers with HIV, half the population of some towns. Last month, China banned Wan's organization, AIDS Action Project, which operates with grants from groups like The Ford Foundation and the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation. Then on the evening of Aug. 24, Wan suddenly vanished. Friends say he was followed for several days by "three large men" in a black Volkswagon. He had attended a gay and lesbian film screening and was on his way to meet unknown persons he had phoned, when he disappeared. Appeals to the Beijing Public Security Bureau by Wan's wife, Su Zhaosheng ­ a graduate student in Los Angeles where Wan splits his time ­ have so far been unanswered. Calls on Monday by friends to Beijing police headquarters also met with no response.

But informal confirmation that Wan is under detention is a relief to colleagues who say the mild-mannered 39- year-old has made dangerous enemies. "The Chinese government understands that the AIDS problem is serious, and that it can't be hidden anymore," says Hu Jia, a close friend. "They may be now finding out how far he [Wan] will cooperate." Still, in China a "disappearance" without police verification is not reassuring, say human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which called Aug. 31 for Wan's release, if he has not been charged with a crime. Monday, activists in Hong Kong protested outside the Chinese government liaison office, calling for Beijing to investigate or announce Wan's whereabouts.

A proximate cause for Wan's disappearance may be an internal Henan health ministry document he sent last month to an AIDS e-mail group. The memo repeats much of what is known about the stark conditions in that province. But as a state document, its distribution may be illegal, offering a reason to detain Wan. Some activists worried that Wan might have been nabbed by locals from Henan who wanted him silenced. Wan's website has published the names of Henan health officials who remain in office, despite charges of complicity and profit in the blood-collection scheme of the '90s ­ and who have so far refused responsibility.

Wan had also met with Henan officials, including the vice minister of health, this spring at an upscale hotel restaurant in west Beijing, say colleagues who accompanied him. The officials offered Wan a deal: In exchange for deleting officials' names from his website, Wan could freely collect evidence in Henan. They also suggested that Wan stop "embarrassing" them, and stop accusing local health officials in future reports. Wan refused. This June, based partly on work done by the AIDS Action Project, the UN released a study, "HIV/AIDS: China's Titanic Peril," predicting that 10 million people in China could carry the virus by 2010. "China is on the verge of a catastrophe that could result in unimaginable suffering," the UN said and criticized "insufficient political commitment and leadership at many levels of government."

Chinese authorities, who have downplayed a potential AIDS crisis until this year, were reportedly angered over the June UN report. A Ministry of Health official termed it "inaccurate." While there have been no formal responses to the detailed 89-page document, China reevaluated its official estimate of the number of HIV infected persons from 600,000 to 800,000, closer to the low-end UN estimate. Some Beijing sources say Wan's work was becoming too noticeable. They point out that with the 16th Party Congress approaching Nov. 8, expected to usher in a major leadership change in China, officials issued orders that no troublesome or "bad" news be published, and that the social and political climate prior to the transition be calm. If Wan is being held, it is for this reason, local sources say.

Before it was shut down, Wan's AIDS group began a new set of petitions to the UN, the US, and European governments, and a variety of nongovernmental organizations sprinkled internationally, for more funds and help. "He came back in June from the US full of passion," Mr. Hu. "On July 1, he got a two-year $15,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, and he was making plans." Prior to Wan's disappearance, friends also note, The New York Times interviewed him for a story about children orphaned by the AIDS scandal in Henan.

China is preparing its own funding application worth millions to a group called Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, based in Geneva, for use in Henan and other hard-hit provinces. Wan's disappearance may be a prelude to talks with him about his views on how those projects are funded, some activists speculate. When asked if authorities had ever approached Wan to discuss his role in a normal above-board meeting, one friend said, "You have to know Wan. He is not that kind of person. He is direct and frank, and it would be impossible to persuade him of anything he didn't believe in a meeting like that."

September 20, 2002


Human Rights in China welcomes the release of public health and AIDS activist Dr. Wan Yanhai. This release following a relatively short period of detention is a victory for the international AIDS activist and human rights communities, Dr. Wan's friends, family, colleagues, and supporters. Dr. Wan through his courage, persistence, and commitment over the past decade, has made an invaluable contribution to putting the human face of AIDS in China on the international map. Human Rights in China urges ongoing monitoring to ensure that Dr. Wan and his colleagues are able to continue their important work inside and outside of China.

At the same time, Dr. Wan's detention and his release reflects the arbitrary power and unfettered discretion of the Chinese State Security apparatus. Dr. Wan's detention is not the first time the Chinese government has invoked the State Security or State Secrets Law to chill and suppress legitimate efforts by Chinese citizens to address the critical issues facing Chinese society, such as the current AIDS crisis. Many other Chinese citizens remain in detention for alleged violations of vague provisions of these laws. For example, Li Hai, a graduate of Beijing University Philosophy department, is still serving his nine-year sentence for his "crime of collecting a post-1989 prisoner list of democracy advocates. Human Rights in China urges the release of all individuals detained for peacefully exercising their rights of freedom of expression and association....

September 20, 2002

ACT UP Statement on Wan Yan Hai's Release by the Chinese Government

ACT UP is pleased that the Chinese government has decided to free Dr. Wan Yan Hai, an AIDS expert and scholar who is leading the fight against AIDS in China. A global team of AIDS and human rights activists from New York to Johannesburg worked tirelessly to mobilize people with AIDS around the world to help free him. Many, many other NGOs and other entities worked behind the scenes on his behalf.

However, hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens still languish with AIDS. Their children are being orphaned every day. They are demanding AIDS treatment, and Dr. Wan's release reminds us that their voices must be heard. So as U.S. AIDS activists, in solidarity with people with AIDS in China, we call on the Chinese government:

1. To provide immediate, free AIDS medication for people with AIDS in China. One recent petition to the Chinese government reads, in part:

"To provide free medicine, or medicine we can afford, and we demand the government produce copies of Western medicines as quickly as possible," signed by 30 patients from Sui County in Henan.

2. To allow the free flow of AIDS information in China on the internet and in the press -- this information is the key to stopping the epidemic.

3. To manufacture generic versions of drugs off patent and issue compulsory licenses for drugs that have patents in effect in China.

4. To stop harassing and detaining Chinese AIDS activists who are trying to halt this epidemic and save lives.

We call on President Bush to advocate for these demands when he meets with President Jiang Zemin next month.

As U.S. AIDS activists, we also stand in solidarity with the courageous activists in China who are risking their freedoms and their lives to help people with AIDS.


see Wan Yanhai's 2001 report: China Health News And the Henan Province Health Scandal Cover-Up

see also research testimony on HIV/AIDS in China:

Testimony by Dr. Bates Gill, Freeman Chair in China Studies Center for Strategic and International Studies
U.S. Government's Congressional - Executive Commission on China

additional links:

Human Rights Watch press release on Wan

2002 International Recipient Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights
Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network will honor detained Chinese AIDS activist Dr. Wan Yanhai as the first recipient of the two organizations' "Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights." .

Human Rights in China

Wan Yanhai's Interview on Subversity Radio ..(second part of audio ~ requires RealAudio)

Photos of Wan

China's First AIDS, Gay Activist
Profile of Wan Yanhai: Grassroots Activism, Pacific Rim-Style. (written in 2000)

media reports >>>

Chinese AIDS Activist's Release Sought by Wife
ABC News, September 13th 2002

AIDS-Fighting Prize Awarded to Doctor Imprisoned in China
Tehran Times, Sept. 14th 2002

Dos millones de casos de sida sólo en una provincia china, según un experto detenido
El Pais, Viernes, 13 de septiembre de 2002

Banned AIDS
Sydney Morning Herald. September 14th, 2002

By choking information, China worsens AIDS crisis
International Herald Tribune, Saturday, September 14, 2002

Wife of Chinese AIDS campaigner without news of her husband
World - AFP , Saturday September 14, 2002

In Fight Against AIDS, China Is Its Own Worst Enemy
Chinese American News, September 15, 2002

ACT UP [Paris]
Militants throw fake blood on a Chinese flag and on the ground in front of the Chinese embassy in Paris
to protest the imprisonment of Chinese AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, September 13, 2002

ACT UP/Paris
Press Release .(en Français)

China's Looming Catastrophe
New York Times -- Editorial, September 16, 2002 

China Undercover
Washington Post editorial, September 2, 2002

Chinese AIDS Activist Disappears: May Be Detained
Washington Post , August 29, 2002

Human Rights, Gay Groups Picket Chinese Consulate in New York
Sing Tao Daily, September 20, 2002 .(in Chinese)

AIDS Group Pickets Chinese Consulate in New York
ACT UP Calls On Beijing to Release Wan Yanhai
World Journal, September 20, 2002 .(in Chinese)


China Releases AIDS Activist
BBC NEWS September 20, 2002

China releases anti-AIDS activist
The Boston Globe September 21, 2002

China Frees AIDS Activist After International Protests
The Washington Post September 21, 2002

China Frees AIDS Activist After Month of Outcry
The New York Times September 21, 2002





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