On April 5, dozens of HIV/AIDS patients were violently mistreated and detained in Xingtai area of Shahe City, Hebei Province for appealing to authorities for compensation and treatment. Lawyers who provide legal assistance to these petitioners have been followed by authorities.
At noon on April 5, dozens of HIV/AIDS patients and their family members gathered in front of the Shahe municipal office with hopes meeting Premier Wen Jiabao, after learning of his visit to the city, according to Beijing Aizhixing [AIDS] Research Institute. The patients wanted to report on their HIV contraction during blood transfusions at Kangtai Hospital in 1997.
The authorities responded by beating the petitioners and spraying them with an unidentified liquid, which caused them to faint before being detained by the police. When interviewed by a RFA reporter about the authorities' response, Wan Yanhai, the Director of Beijing Aizhixing Institute, said, “It was mostly violence! The police used some sort of unknown weapon, and local public security officers sprayed unidentified liquids on them.”
Director Wan said that these petitioners had asked for compensation and treatment many times through lawsuits and petitions for ten years, but had failed each time. This time, the authorities arrested these petitioners without any legal formalities. The families of the detainees were also not notified.
Since April 8, four petitioners have been released under the condition that they promise to not disclose anything to others, including the fact that they were sprayed with an unidentified liquid.
Family members of two petitioners hired three lawyers in Beijing to provide legal assistance. One of their lawyers, Jiang Tainyong, confirmed the police's actions. He said, “[The petitioners] did not see clearly what they were sprayed with. They could not open their eyes and breathing was difficult, and then they lost consciousness.”
Jiang also said that the other two lawyers and he recently went to Shahe City Public Security Bureau to talk with the police. The police gave no explanation to why the HIV/AIDS patients were arrested and did not disclose whether any notice will be given. In the end, the police reluctantly accepted the lawyers' documents.
“When we returned to the hotel, we found many people there waiting, including the local township and village cadres and many others who we do not know,” said Jiang.
According to Jiang, the authorities followed them as the lawyers, two patients and he took a bus. “Many people continued to follow me as I took a bus to Beijing. We discovered that at least two cars followed us to Beijing,” said Jiang.
After arriving in Beijing that evening, they ultimately lost the authorities' surveillance with the help of a taxi and the subway. The two patients have since been properly arranged to stay in a hotel. Jiang said, “I hope that we will find an appropriate solution to the issue. These people only peacefully expressed their wishes. Even if they expected to meet state leaders, that is still a part of their rights as citizens. We feel that it is very inappropriate to treat them like this. We hope that the authorities will release them and solve their problem as soon as possible.”
According to Beijing Aizhixing Institute, Kangtai hospital refused to give AIDS patients any compensation because of its relationship to the authorities. The director of Xingtai Kangtai Hospital is Wang Fengying. Wang's sister happens to be the vice Mayor of Shahe City in charge of cultural and educational affairs for the city. Her sister-in-law, Ma Lancui, was the former Mayor of Xingtai City. Ma is now the deputy director of the General Office of Hebei Province NPC Standing Committee.