Chinese AIDS Activist Released from House Arrest to Receive Rights Award in US

The Chinese government will allow a prominent and outspoken AIDS activist to travel to the U.S. to receive a rights award supported by Senator Hillary Clinton after detaining her at home for two weeks. The release comes after international pressure was brought to bear on Chinese officials, including a letter from Clinton to Chinese President Hu Jintao. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

Gao Yaojie, a retired doctor in her 80s, said officials in Henan province told her Friday she would be allowed to go to the U.S., to accept a leadership award for supporting women's legal rights in China. She said the police that had not allowed her to leave home for the past two weeks were no longer there. Her telephone service, which authorities had cut, has been restored.

Wenchi Yu Perkins is the human rights program director for Vital Voices Global Partnership, the Washington-based women's advocacy organization that will present the award to Gao. She welcomed Gao's release.

"I think it's really due to various pressure and also the government realizes that having Dr. Gao coming to the U.S. and receive this prestigious award is only good for China," she said.

Gao was key to exposing government-supported blood-buying programs in the 1990s that infected tens of thousands of poor farmers with the AIDS virus through infected blood transfusions. Her outspoken advocacy of AIDS patients' rights embarrassed Henan officials, who often harassed her and restricted her movements.

Perkins says Chinese officials placed Gao under house arrest because they were concerned she might say something that would make the government look bad.

The detention was widely criticized and the case to get her released was taken up by former first lady, now senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who wrote a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Aides to Clinton said China's ambassador to Washington Zhou Wenzhong called the senator on Friday to say Gao would be allowed to go to the U.S.

Clinton is honorary co-chair of Vital Voices and will help present the award to Gao on March 14 at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington.

Gao has been given numerous awards for her HIV/AIDS advocacy and education work. Perkins notes this will be the first time the Chinese government has allowed Gao to travel abroad to receive an award in person.

Chinese officials prevented Gao from leaving the country in 2001 to collect the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. Two years later, authorities stopped her from going abroad to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, a prestigious honor from a Philippines-based foundation.

The Chinese government has come a long way from once denying HIV/AIDS was a problem to launching nation-wide education and prevention campaigns. But people infected with HIV/AIDS face widespread discrimination and activists are still harassed.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs