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Freed China critic Hu Jia says wants to resume activism

Posted by Author on June 27, 2011

BEIJING — Prominent Chinese dissident Hu Jia wants to resume his activism but he is weighing up the impact on his family, according to his first reported comments since being released from prison at the weekend.

During a phone interview with Hong Kong’s Cable TV, Hu stressed the importance of “loyalty to morality, loyalty to the rights of citizens”.

“You should be loyal to your conscience,” he said in a broadcast aired late Sunday.

One of China’s leading rights activists and government critics, Hu returned to his Beijing home early on Sunday, his wife Zeng Jinyan said on Twitter, after completing a more than three-year sentence for subversion.
Hu’s release came just days after outspoken artist Ai Weiwei returned to his home in the Chinese capital after nearly three months in police custody, amid a government crackdown on dissent.

Hu, 37, was jailed in April 2008, just months before the Beijing Olympics, after angering the ruling Communist Party through years of bold campaigning for civil rights, the environment and AIDS patients.

He won the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament’s highest human rights honour, later that year while in prison.

Hu now faces one year of “deprivation of political rights” — essentially a ban on political activities that typically includes not talking to media.

Chinese police have blocked access to his home, which indicates he will face restrictions on his movements and contacts.

Hu said in the phone interview that his family was pressuring him to stay out of trouble.

“They have told me: ‘Live an ordinary life and don’t clash with the regime because this regime is very cruel and it arbitrarily violates the dignity of its citizens’,” Hu said.

“I must try to console my parents and do what I can to console them… but I can only tell them I’ll be careful,” he added, in a strong indication he would like to return to activism.

Hu is widely expected to be hit with the same strict curbs as those apparently applied to Ai and a range of other activists and rights lawyers, who seem to have been ordered to keep quiet after their release from custody.

On her Twitter page Monday, Zeng said well-wishers hoping to visit Hu would not be allowed in, apparently referring to the police surrounding their apartment.

“Everyone, you don’t want to come visit us, you won’t be able to get in. We will meet again later if we have the chance,” she said.

“I’m slowly reintroducing him into society and arranging his life and work. I don’t think it is necessary to say anything more.”

Later Zeng posted online links to Chinese regulations that spell out numerous restrictions on those who have been stripped of their “political rights” — which is what Hu faces.

The rules allow authorities widespread powers to supervise and monitor those affected, or assign neighbourhood and residential committees to keep them under check.

“Please refer to my Twitter accounts,” Zeng said in an email to AFP, refusing to comment on Hu’s legal standing with authorities.

According to the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), police have placed numerous activists under surveillance and warned them not to visit Hu.

An editorial in Monday’s English-language official Global Times, which is published for foreign consumption, complained that the support Hu enjoys in the West was linked to a Western bias toward China’s communist government.

“Hu and other people win Western applause not because of what they have done for Chinese society and world peace, but simply because they are anti-Chinese government,” the editorial said, in the only mention of Hu in state media.

“Mr. Hu had better keep a sober mind in the face of Western praise, just as China should keep its eye on the various comments coming from the West.”


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