Chinese AIDS activist wins human rights prize

On 23 October 2008, Hu Jia, a Chinese advocate for human rights was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Europe’s most prestigious human rights prize.

An article in the New York Times referred to the award as a pointed rebuke of China’s ruling Communist Party that came as European leaders were arriving in Beijing for a weekend summit meeting. “Mr. Hu, 35, was given the prize by the European Parliament despite warnings from Beijing that his selection would harm relations with the European Union”.

Last year, Mr. Hu testified via video link before a hearing of the European Parliament about China’s human rights situation. Weeks later, Mr. Hu was jailed and later sentenced to three and a half years in prison on a conviction for subversion based on his critical writings about Communist Party rule.

Mr. Hu has been one of China’s leading figures on a range of human rights issues, while also speaking out on behalf of AIDS patients and for environmental protection. The European award comes after he had been considered a frontrunner for the Nobel Peace Prize, only to lose to the former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari.

Mr. Hu remains imprisoned in Beijing. His wife, Zeng Jinyan, a prominent blogger and human rights activist, has lived for months under house arrest with the couple’s infant daughter.

Source: NY Times (October 24, 2008).


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