Human rights activist Hu Jia was released yesterday, his wife, Zeng Jinyan, announced to the world in this message on her Twitter page: “Sleepless night. Hu Jia arrived home at 2:30 in the morning. Safe, very happy.”
She followed up today with this Tweet for journalists and her husband’s supporters: “Don’t come to see us. You would not be able to enter.” The couple’s home has been placed under tight police surveillance.
Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that Hu is finally free, but is concerned about his current circumstances, the curbs on his freedom of expression and movement and the pressure being put on him and his family. The press freedom organization will closely follow the treatment he receives, especially after the media’s attention has moved elsewhere.
His release, coinciding with a visit to Europe by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, must not divert attention from the intensified crackdown on dissidents in recent months, at a time when China risks being infected by the Arab revolutions.
The police recently told Zeng that her husband would probably not be able to lead a “normal life” after his release. It seems that he is being placed under a form of house arrest, as other newly released activists have in recent months.
Interviewed yesterday by Hong Kong-based Cable TV, Hu said he wanted to resume his political activities, but in a careful way, taking account of the possible consequences to his family. “You should be loyal to your conscience,” he said, adding: “They have told me to live an ordinary life and not clash with the regime, because this regime is very cruel and it arbitrarily violates the dignity of its citizens.”
An environmentalist and campaigner for the rights of AIDS sufferers, Hu was released on completing a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence on a charge of attempted subversion in comments he posted online and interviews he gave to the foreign media. Under his sentence, he is now deprived of his political rights for a year.
The European parliament awarded Hu the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2008.
AFP PHOTO/ Zeng Jinyan/HO