NEW YORK – A broad-based coalition of international health, development and human rights organizations, along with over one hundred academics and other individuals, have signed a letter calling on China to release activists who were detained for participating in a peaceful hunger strike, the China AIDS Solidarity Network reported in a press statement today.
Groups signing on to the protest letter include Human Rights Watch, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group, the Committee for Human Rights of the American Anthropological Association, and China Labor Watch. Health and development groups from Europe, Africa and Mexico have also signed on.
Prominent individual signers include Prof. Theodore De Bary, author of a widely-used textbook for introductory college courses on China ( Sources of Chinese Tradition .) Leading experts on law and human rights, such as Prof. Jerome Cohen (NYU), Prof. Andrew Nathan (Columbia University), and Prof. Perry Link (Princeton) have also lent their names.
“We continue to gather names,” said Katie Krauss, co-founder of China AIDS Solidarity Network. “We urge everyone concerned to sign the letter at www.aidspolicyproject.org .”
Since mid-February, Chinese authorities have detained over a dozen participants in a relay hunger strike that was organized to protest the arbitrary detention and beatings of Chinese rights defenders. Participants, including well-known AIDS activist Hu Jia, agreed to fast for a day each in turn.
As each person announces his or her plans to take part in the hunger strike, they have been detained.
Some activists have simply disappeared, and police have refused to release information to their families about their whereabouts. (Hu has been missing since the middle of February; please see AIDS Activist Hu Jia “Disappears” in China .)
“China is not only jailing its activists, but also the people who defend them,” said Sara (Meg) Davis, co-founder of the China AIDS Solidarity Network. “The world won't stand by for this. China must release all the hunger strikers immediately.”
There are a total of 122 signatures so far. The letter can be signed at www.aidspolicyproject.org .
The China AIDS Solidarity Network is a coalition of AIDS and human rights groups – working in solidarity with Chinese AIDS activists.