09/07/2006, 00.00
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China gears up for Olympics: one more human rights activist arrested

More than 20 policemen in plain-clothes broke down the front door of Hu Jia and took him away without any explanation. His wife believes Chinese human rights activists are facing a crackdown in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese police this morning arrested Hu Jia, a renowned human rights activist who has been fighting the national spread of AIDS for years. News of his arrest was revealed by his wife, Zeng Jinan, who said on the telephone: "This morning around 8:30am, they took him away without giving any explanation."

"More than 20 officers, none of them wearing uniforms, pounded on the door before forcing their way in. They said nothing and took my husband away."

This is only the latest in a series of arrests by Chinese police against human and civil rights activists: this past month, a prominent Christian lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was imprisoned; he is famous across the country for his open letters against the regime. And Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist who denounced forced abortions in Shandong province, was condemned to four years in prison.

Hu, apart from his involvement in the struggle against AIDS, has consistently informed the press about such arrests and collected valuable information about the situation of political detainees. Even his wife, now, is followed by police wherever she goes.

Hu's arrest came a day after he received a phone call from Gao's wife Geng He, who herself has been under house arrest since August 15. "Geng appeared to have been forced to make the phone call to my husband" said Zeng. "As soon as she told him not to hire a lawyer for Gao, the phone was cut."

The Internet connection and telephone line at Hu and Zeng's home were cut a few minutes after the call. Zeng believes the authorities are cracking down on people working in the field of human rights in China.

"Recently, I keep hearing about people missing, arrested," she said. "I don't think the situation will get better before the Olympics, only worse".

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