10/25/2012, 00.00
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As the Communist congress approaches, dissidents suffer even more

As usual, the authorities in the capital tighten the screws on human rights activists and dissidents. Hu Jia is one of the most affected. Under house arrest since September, he has not been allowed to follow the therapy he needs to treat his liver disease.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - As the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China approaches, the authorities are implementing measures designed to prevent disturbances that might get in the way of the event. One of the first people to be affected by this is Hu Jia, one of China's best known dissidents, who has been under house arrest since last month. Seriously ill, he is being prevented from following the treatment prescribed by his doctors.

On October 23, police took Hu to a hospital for a routine physical exam that he has twice a month, appointments that recently have been his only opportunity to leave his home. Preliminary results show that he has a liver haemangioma and cysts on his liver-common signs of liver problems-but for now doctors exclude the possibility of liver cancer.

However, his health is likely to deteriorate because he is not allowed to stay in the sun and buy fresh food, which are essentially for treating liver disease. What is more, the dissident also suffers from hepatitis B and early cirrhosis of the liver, all of which need constant treatment and a healthier lifestyle.

"The set-up is basically the same as for the 17th Party Congress [last year], but it's tighter," Hu said by telephone. "They won't even let me go to the supermarket to buy groceries."

"I can't go out of the courtyard," he added. "My mood is pretty low; I'm not getting much exercise and I've lost my appetite."

The pro-democracy activist was released in June 2011 after three years and half in prison for "incitement to subversion" and communicating with foreign media.

Hu has acted a go-between, putting dissidents and human rights activists in China in touch with the rest of the world. 

He was also one of the first to reveal a blood scandal in Henan, where thousands of farmers were infected with the AIDS virus in the 1990sfrom receiving tainted blood.

He was jailed in April 2007 and convicted in 2008. Since them, fears for his health have grown.

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