Beijing-based human rights activist Hu Jia said Sunday that while in jail, Chinese officials attempted to bribe him with a huge amount of money and early release, if he promised he would stop campaigning, and not accept the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Hu Jia is one of China’s most prominent rights activists. He mainly focuses on China’s democracy movement, but has also campaigned for the environment, victims of AIDS, and land rights in China. He was jailed for three and a half years on charges of attempting to overthrow state power. While in jail, he was awarded the European Union’s Sakharov Prize, which is awarded to people who dedicate their lives to human rights. He is also a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
After his release from jail in June of last year, Hu has been under house arrest and prohibited from giving interviews to foreign media. But even under house arrest, Hu was still very active and outspoken. He was actively involved in the escape of his close friend, Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, and last month he was beaten by Chinese domestic security officers.
While in jail, officials offered him a huge amount of money, Hu told The Epoch Times in a phone interview on July 15. They also promised him two and a half years early release on medical grounds if he admitted to the crimes he was accused of and issued a statement saying he did not deserve the Sakharov Prize.
A Beijing state security captain told Hu that since the Sakharov Prize carries a 50,000 euro (approximately 400,000 yuan) award, if he agreed to turn it down, the government would recoup his loss and pay him double the amount, Hu recalled.
“I asked him, ‘Isn’t your money all from taxpayers?’ and the officer said, ‘It is the dirtiest method,’” Hu told The Epoch Times.
“Even the [state security captain] understands that [paying me bribe] money is the dirtiest method,” Hu said. “But how can the Foreign Ministry conceive of such a thing?”
Other Chinese rights activists have reported similar experiences. Human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, known for defending Falun Gong practitioners and Christian house church members, was arrested and tortured in 2005 because he refused to openly slander Falun Gong.
In his article, “Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia,” Gao said that some officials proposed to him that he use his writing skills to slander Falun Gong, and that he could charge whatever he wanted for doing so. Gao replied that it was not a technical problem but an ethical problem.
So the officials said, “If that is too hard, then write articles praising the government, and again charge whatever you want.” Finally they proposed, “If you write what we direct, and that you were treated well after prison, and that you were fooled by Falun Gong and Hu Jia, things will go well. Otherwise, how can you find an end to your suffering? Think of your wife and children.”
Gao has been subjected to brutal torture and remains in prison to this day. Gao and Hu are often referred to as the conscience and hope of China.
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